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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Joran Van Der Sloot To Be Extradited To U.S.; Airline Industry Expected To Make $10 billion In 2023; The Little Mermaid Tanks In China and South Korea Box Office Amid Racist Backlash; Pence Takes Center Stage At Iowa Town Hall. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired June 08, 2023 - 05:30   ET






CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Another win for the Dark Knight. CNN's parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery and DC Comics win their EU trademark dispute over the Batman logo with an Italian designer. It comes just ahead of the release next Friday of the Flash, which features the Caped Crusader.

Just ahead. The prime suspect in the 2005 disappearance of Natalee Holloway arrives on U.S. soil today. And Argentina's Lionel Messi pulls off his latest feat, stunning the soccer world.


ROMANS: here's today's fast forward. Look ahead. Millions of Americans in the Northeast will be under air quality alerts today due to smoke from Canadian wildfires, but the air is slowly expected to improve.

The suspect in the Natalee Holloway disappearance expected to arrive in Alabama today. Joran van der Sloot is being extradited from Peru to face extortion and fraud charges.


President Biden welcoming British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to the White House today. They will discuss the Inflation Reduction Act which some U.K. Officials say is harmful to world trade. Prime Minister Sunak will join Kaitlin Collins tonight at nine on CNN primetime.

All right, Mike Pence might still be referred to as the former Vice President, but he has a new title now presidential candidate. Pence took part in CNN's Town Hall last night in Iowa, taking questions on a number of topics, including one that all candidates will have to figure out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you plan to reach hardcore Trump or nothing Republicans that supported the President's brash and bullying nature just as much as his policies?

MIKE PENCE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Well, look, I think Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are going to be the great unifiers of the Republican Party.


ROMANS: I see what he did there. Let's bring in James Pindell, Political Reporter at The Boston Globe. Nice to see you. He took a second. He took a second and then instead of going directly after Pence, he shifted to the Democrats. Could that tactic work for him?

JAMES PINDELL, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE BOSTON GLOBE: He did that all night at the CNN town hall meeting. He would dance right up to the moment and then say, well, the Democrats do this or the media do this, without directly going after it.

I think one of the early, early dynamics in this expanding Republican presidential field are those candidates who directly take on Donald Trump. Asa Hussington, the former governor of Arkansas, clearly Christie would be two who directly do that and others who do it in much more subtle ways. Obviously, Ron DeSantis finds his moments in which to hit Trump. But that is the early dynamic. And you saw a classic Mike Pence there in that moment.

ROMANS: You recently wrote analysis on why New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu decided not to run, writing that for Sununu, running for president was a lose proposition. Then yesterday, North Dakota Governor Doug Bergam announced his bid. Your article was published before that announcement, but you did mention Bergam in that piece writing, Bergham isn't running for president so much as he's trying to be the next Pete Buttigieg.

Expand on that for me here. I mean, if you've got Chris Sununu, somebody who's darling, as you point out of the Sunday talk shows, with a big national presence dropping out, but Doug Bergam entering, what is that all about?

PINDELL: Well, look, the incentives in the system are to run for president. People have figured this out a long time ago. In 2016, there were 17 Republicans who ran for President. In 2020, there were 23 Democrats who ran for President, including, as we all know, a mayor of a town of 100,000 people in South Bend, Indiana, who later became a thing. Obviously now transportation secretary won the Iowa caucuses in Pete Buttigieg.

But Chris Sununu has always been a different calculation. He's the governor of a small state. He's never raised a lot of money, and his path was to be the big kingmaker of 2024. Bigger than Jim Clyber, bigger than ever existed. He wanted to be the one who could pick the particular nominee for president.

And by the way, ride those coattails with him to Washington, just like his father did, by the way, with a key endorsement in 1992 for George H. W. Bush. And then he, of course, he became the White House Chief of Staff. This is Chris Sununu's father Doug Bergam, of course, has a different path. No one really cares about the endorsement of the governor of North Dakota.

However, he feels like he wants to increase his level in American politics. He's a very popular governor, not that anyone really knows his name. So this is a chance for him to elevate himself and see where this thing goes.

ROMANS: Interesting. Also, I think there's going to be a major focus in the 2024 campaign trail on, I guess, bashing the Biden economy. Right. Here's some of Pence talking about spending and jobs.


PENCE: We need to get federal spending under control. I think we ought to impose a freeze on all non-defense discretionary spending across the board. We ought to look to the Congress to promote policies that ensure full employment. All right, we've been passing the buck to the Fed for too long. Let them protect the dollar, and let's hold our political leaders to account for keeping Americans working.


ROMANS: So for traditional Republicans, you know, that fiscal restraint does resonate. It really does. But we have an unemployment rate near the lowest in 50 or 60 years. Inflation is coming down, as Secretary Janet Yellen has said, and the economy is holding in there pretty well. The S and P 500 is on the verge of a new bull market. So how do Republicans go against Biden when it comes to the economy?

PINDELL: I think you're exactly right. And one thing they're trying to do is be nostalgic about the, as Mike Pence mentioned all night last night, the 40-year high of inflation, which currently does not exist. But we remember that very well.

Look, for a lot of these folks, you mentioned the word traditional Republican. And when it comes to Mike Pence, there is no one who's been arguing harder that he's a traditional Republican and that matters in this Republican presidential field than Mike Pence.


Look what he said all day during his announcement speech and at the CNN town hall. Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan. And the Ronald Reagan net notion of the three-legged stool of fiscal conservatism, as you mentioned, strong national security, which he definitely talked about when it came to Ukraine.

And then, obviously, social conservative ism which he did not back down on the abortion question whatsoever. He is walking in that lane. The question, of course, is, wasn't Mike Pence part of the huge transition of the Republican Party under Donald Trump? And how is he going to really square that circle and make the convincing argument to Republicans that, no, the party is still the party of Reagan and it's not the party of Donald Trump?

ROMANS: Interesting. All right, James Pindell, always nice to talk to you. The Boston Globe. Thank you so much.

PINDELL: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. To sports. The Nuggets are now halfway to clinching their first ever NBA championship after a historic win over the Heat last night on Miami's home court. Coy Wire has this morning's Bleacher Report. Good morning, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine. The Heat playing in front of their home crowd for the first time this series. They're hyped because last time they were in the finals, it was during the pandemic. No fans allowed. And it wasn't even in Miami. It was in the bubble in Orlando.

Well, home court did not matter. Remember after their game two loss, Nuggets coach Michael Malone called his team out for lack of effort in the final. Message received. It was like punching cows out there. Utter domination.

Jamal Murray scoring a game high 34. Nikola Jokic with 32. The stars aligned to combine for more than half of their team's points, becoming the first teammates to have a 30 point triple double.

Now, Jokic is more historic. It's his 10th, extending his single playoffs records, and he's now the first player in NBA Finals history with a 30.20 rebound, 10 assist triple double.


NIKOLA JOKIC, DENVER NUGGETS CENTER: To be honest, I just think it's a win, because if you lose, nobody's going to even mention, even to be honest, I don't care. It's just a stat.

MICHAEL MALONE, DENVER NUGGETS HEAD COACH: Nothing he does surprises me ever. This guy has shown time and time again that he's built for these moments. He thrives in these moments, the biggest stage, and he did that once again tonight.


WIRE: The best of seven series continues with game four Friday night in Miami.

Argentinian legend Lionel Messi is taking his talents to South Florida. Not Saudi Arabia, not back to Barcelona, arguably the greatest ever. Announcing yesterday he's joining Inter Miami of the MLS. The 35-year-old led Argentina to a World Cup win six months ago.

Last night, after news broke, Christine, listened to this a few hours before game three of the NBA Finals, it was cheaper to buy a ticket to get into that than it was to buy a ticket to see Messi's potential debut for Inter Miami next month. Tickets soaring from $29 to 477. It's more than a 1,500 percent increase. The dust still settling after Tuesday's shocking announcements at the

PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf are joining forces. There hasn't been a more outspoken critic of LIV Golf than four time major champion Rory McIlroy. Speaking at the Canadian open yesterday, Roy is not backing down from his stance against the Saudi backed breakaway series.


RORY MCILROY, 4-TIME MAJOR CHAMPION: I still hit live like I hit live. I hope it goes away, and I would fully expect that it does. It's hard for me to not sit up here and feel somewhat like a sacrificial lamb and, you know, feeling like I've put myself out there and this is what happens again, removing myself from the situation. I see how this is better for the game of golf. There's no denying that.


WIRE: Finally, what a night for the Cincinnati Reds and their rookies against the Dodgers. Bottom of the first. Elly De La Cruz absolutely crushing the ball. The home run nearly clearing the stadium. What makes it even more impressive is that it was his first homer of his career.

Speaking of first career homers, teammate Will Benson says, hold my beer. It's his first home run, too. This one ending the game. A two run walk off winner. And check out the celebration. That, Christine, is what it's all about.

ROMANS: Sure is. All right. Nice to see you, Coy.

WIRE: You too.

ROMANS: All right. Coming up on CNN this morning, what could be the biggest sign yet that the special counsel's investigation is not going well for Donald Trump? And next right here, consumers trying to save on groceries, oh, but they will splurge on concert tickets.



ROMANS: Your Romans numeral this morning, 10 billion airlines are expecting to make $10 billion in profit this year, despite fears of a looming economic slowdown around the world. This as the international Air Transport Association has more than doubled its profit forecast. It marks a significant rebound to near pre-pandemic levels, even as high inflation and rising interest rates weigh on spending.

Looking at markets around the world right now, Asian markets finished mixed. Japan's economy grew a little faster than initially estimated in its first quarter. European markets mixed this hour. And just in, the Eurozone slips into recession versus revised data shows two quarters of economic contraction.

On Wall Street, stock index futures right now barely moving here. And yesterday was another mixed day for stocks in the US. The S and P 500 basically on the verge of a new bull market, even as you still have all of these worries about recession swirling.

Overall, though, recession fears appear to be fading. The NASDAQ ending the day down more than 1 percent. The Dow finished the day slightly higher.

On inflation watch, gas prices rose a penny overnight to 3.56 a gallon. Initial jobless claims and mortgage rates are on tap later today.

All right. AAA says international travel is up more than 200 percent compared to 2022, with ticket prices for international trips also more than 30 percent higher.


Washington Post says some people are heading overseas on elaborate trips to experience moments like this Taylor Swift concert.

Let's bring the author of that article, Natalie Compton, a travel writer at the Washington Post. So nice to have you here. You know, I've been studying what some people are calling a discretionary recession. For example, they're trading down on what kind of cuts of meat they're buying, but they're buying airline tickets and Taylor Swift tickets.

Tell me a little bit about what you're seeing about people willing to spend on experiences even as they're pulling back someplace else.

NATALIE COMPTON, TRAVEL WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: It seems like people are remembering the pandemic. When they couldn't go anywhere, their artists weren't touring. Now that some of the biggest names in the world are back on tour, they are not holding back to spend 300, 600, $1,200 on concert tickets just in case they know it's now or never. And people are going all out even if they are saving in other ways.

ROMANS: Yes. You mentioned that you would talk to people going to Taylor Swift concerts, for example, who were taking the bus or finding other ways to afford it, but still being able to pay for a new outfit and going to getting the tickets.

COMPTON: Sure. People are scouring message boards, fan message boards to find cheaper ways to go to concerts. For example, one Bruce Springsteen fan, instead of renting a car in rural Italy, they found out that there was this bus that went perfectly from Bologna to the concert venue. So, people are getting creative, trying to find ways to go see their favorite tours and getting very, very creative, like packing nine people into a hotel room in Arizona to go see Taylor Swift. They're making it work.

ROMANS: These are necessary luxuries. On the other side of COVID these are necessary luxuries. And people are finding ways to make it happen. In a lot of ways, by the way, Memorial Day weekend was a major test for airlines with travel levels returning back to 2019, surpassing 2019 levels.

What does that show you? Does it show you that airlines and airports are ready and that these travel numbers are the new normal?

COMPTON: We know that these travel numbers are the new normal. What we always are fearful of is. a crazy summer storm. Those can be unpredictable and throw everything out of whack. But the airlines are saying that they have recovered from some of these mishaps that we saw last summer. Over the holidays, they've upped their staffing.

So hopefully, given that great Memorial Day test, we shouldn't have too much chaos this summer. But we remember what happened and we don't want to be too positive about it.

ROMANS: There's just such a contradiction. And I love that you focused in on the travel part of this. There's this contradiction where we've been on recession watch for, I don't know, a year and a half I mean, I heard somebody I wish I'd coined this phrase, calling it the waiting for godot (ph) recession. It just has never come.

And I think when you look at travel and leisure, you can see how people really are trying to and are spending money where it matters for them. Right?

COMPTON: Sure. One of the travel company owners that I talked to was talking about for three years now, we've been talking about revenge travel. We've been talking about people feeling like, oh, I didn't get to take these trips during the pandemic. That's not the sentiment anymore.

This is they realize how important travel is to them. They're going to take trips when they can, and they're going to spend a lot of money on them, even if they are saving in other places.

So, we're seeing Italy, lots of hotels sold out way far in advance. We're seeing all of these Taylor Swift concerts selling out. We're seeing how people are willing to spend their money on pleasure now. And it's nice to see people experiencing that joy.

ROMANS: Yeah. Sign me up. I don't have Taylor Swift tickets, but sign me up for that kind of mentality, I guess, in 2023. Natalie Compton of the Washington Post. Thank you so much. Nice to see you.

COMPTON: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. Right now you're looking at live pictures in New York City still blanketed by Canadian wildfire smoke. Wow. Amazing. That that is the big Apple skyline. Where it's headed next.



ROMANS: Disney's live action remake of The Little Mermaid performing poorly in China and South Korea. The choice of a black actress to play Ariel had some moviegoers leaving negative reviews and starting social media trends like hashtag not my Ariel. CNN's Christie Lu Stout live in Hong Kong for us. It's shocking how little this movie earned in China and South Korea. Tell us more.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it grossed less than $5 million in China and South Korea since it was released in late May. I mean, it is dramatically underperforming in these markets amid racist critiques. Black actress Halle Bailey, she has been roundly praised for her incredible interpretation of the main character, Ariel, but apparently, that is not enough to win over certain would be viewers in China and South Korea who can't get over the fact that Disney cast her for the part.

Now, the film has enjoyed success in many corners of the world. The film has made $327 million globally, according to ComScore, but China, the world's second largest box office has contributed a very, very small amount.

According to N-Data, in mainland China, the film has made only $2.7 million in its first five days. Compare that to the new Spiderman animated movie that brought in nearly $20 million in the first five days of opening.

And some people in China have been sharing their objections online. You know, one that is in wrote this quote the fairy tale that I grew up with has changed beyond recognition, and Chinese state media is egging on this kind of reaction.