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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

WSJ Poll: Trump Holds Significant Leader In GOP Primary; Officials: Escaped Murderer Still In Southeast Pennsylvania Area; China Announces Premier Li Will Attend G20 Summit. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired September 04, 2023 - 05:30   ET




DAVID CULVER, CNN ANCHOR: So we might be at the unofficial end of summer but the campaign season -- it is just starting to heat up, especially for Republican candidates not named Donald Trump.

So check out this new Wall Street Journal poll. It shows that former President Trump's lead in the GOP field is only growing stronger. We're talking nearly 60 percent of GOP primary voters calling Trump their top choice.

Let's bring in Washington Post campaign reporter Dylan Wells, joining me normally in D.C. and normally all over, but with us here in New York. Thanks for being with us.


CULVER: So let's start with DeSantis here, OK? So he's remained in second place, albeit we're talking about a distant second. Money is a major issue as far as raising it. What are the other big challenges for DeSantis and, really, this field as a whole as we enter this campaign season?

WELLS: Well, in this Wall Street Journal poll you just referenced, DeSantis' numbers have dropped since he entered the race rather than increase, which is obviously not what you want as a candidate. And the super PAC backing Ron DeSantis said in leaked audio just this past month that they need $50 million more by the end of the year.

And this comes as DeSantis' campaign has struggled with reboots. They've done multiple rounds of layoffs. And it's not exactly the position he would ideally like to be in to take on Trump, especially when Trump has such a strong lead in the polls as we've seen in the Wall Street Journal example.

CULVER: An incredible lead. I mean, these numbers are quite striking.

Former DNC chairwoman Donna Brazile -- she spoke about Trump in this context of a political movement. I want you to listen to part of that and I'll get your reaction on the other side. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONNA BRAZILE, POLITICAL STRATEGIST, ABC COMMENTATOR, FORMER CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: I've never seen anything like this with Donald Trump. I mean, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger? I mean, being convicted -- I mean, being indictment? That's making him stronger? Raising $10 million using an ugly mug shot to raise money?

This is a movement. And anyone who thinks that you can apply the old political rules to try to defeat this candidate based on he's scary, he's ugly -- whatever you might want to call him -- this is a movement and we have to respect the fact that it's a movement.


CULVER: A movement.

So what do you think of that? Are Democrats here underestimating the challenges that Trump poses here?

WELLS: Well, I think it reflects what I see out on the campaign trail. Donald Trump is just far and beyond the party leader still for most Republicans. And voters I talk to -- even if they like Ron DeSantis, they like Nikki Haley, they like Vivek Ramaswamy, at the end of the day, they see Trump is still in the race and figure why not vote for him, you know?


The indictments -- all of that doesn't really weigh on these Republican-based voters who just still love Trump and like what he did in his presidency, and figure why not support him for another term.

CULVER: So we measured that Wall Street Journal polling. It also shows that Biden and Trump are in this dead heat in a hypothetical rematch. So we've seen Biden and his team really look at Bidenomics, but are they going to have to rethink their strategy here?

WELLS: Well, they hope that they can highlight some of these accomplishments that Biden has had in office, whether it's Bidenomics or the infrastructure bill. But it's unclear yet how much that is really breaking through with voters. I think a lot of Democrats are not as tuned into the race yet at this point with the Republican field. There's been a lot more attention.

But this poll does show that at this early point they are head-to- head. However, it's just one poll but definitely something that I'm sure the Biden campaign is keeping an eye on as we head into the increased fall campaign season.

CULVER: And no doubt you're keeping an eye on it, too, as you continue to follow the campaigns. Thank you, Dylan Wells, from The Washington Post. Good to be with you.

WELLS: Thank you so much. CULVER: All right. The manhunt for a killer who escaped a Pennsylvania prison -- it has intensified this morning. Officials releasing surveillance video showing convicted murderer Danelo Cavalcante in a neighborhood only a mile and a half from the Chester County Prison. Now they think he's still in the prison area -- we're talking west of Philadelphia.

CNN's Polo Sandoval brings us the latest on this search.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): It is a very active manhunt that's underway in southeast Pennsylvania. Initially, on Friday, authorities had said that they were afraid that Danelo Cavalcante was making his way towards Mexico and then potentially, to his native Brazil. However, at about 1:30 in the morning on Saturday, he was spotted on surveillance video a mere mile and a half away from the Chester County Prison, which is where he was serving a lifelong sentence for murder.

And precisely in that area, authorities are really focusing much of the search with hundreds of SWAT team members (local, state), federal law enforcement officers that are now urging people who live in the area, only about 30 miles west of Philadelphia, to keep their doors locked and certainly reach out to them if they spot the 34-year-old fugitive.

The 34-year-old man was initially -- at least he was beginning his lifelong sentence after being convicted for the stabbing murder of his girlfriend. Investigators say that he stabbed her to death in front of her two children, which is why what we heard on Sunday from the Chester County district attorney not only urging residents to be extremely vigilant but continue to describe him as an extremely dangerous man.

Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.


CULVER: China announcing that Premier Li Qiang will attend the G20 summit in India later this month. But here's the real significance of this announcement. It clearly implies who is not attending this G20 summit.

Kristie Lu Stout joining us live from Hong Kong. So, Kristie, there have been signs for a while now that China's President Xi Jinping may not attend the G20. Effectively, as we are seeing with Li Qiang now going that this is confirmation Xi won't be there?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, David. This is the clearest sign that Xi Jinping is not going to attend the G20 summit. Instead, Premier Li Qiang will be gathering in New Delhi.

Now, today, we heard from the Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning who said this. Let's bring up the statement for you. Quote, "At the invitation of the government of the Republican of India, Premier of the State Council Li Qiang will attend the 18th G20 summit to be held in New Delhi, India on September the 9th and the 10th."

Now, at this year's G20, Xi would be missing out on some pretty critical conversations on climate, on Ukraine. And his expected no- show in New Delhi comes as China and India clash over a map and a border dispute. It also comes as China battles a number of economic challenges, including one involving its -- one of its biggest homebuilders teetering on the brink of default.

Now, on Sunday, we heard from the U.S. President Joe Biden. He told reporters that he was disappointed that Xi was not attending the G20 summit but suggested that he would be meeting with him in the future but didn't elaborate.

Now, U.S.-China tensions, of course, continue to flare over Taiwan, over trade, over territorial disputes. And to try to stabilize this relationship, a number of senior Biden officials have gone to China to visit in recent months, including the U.S. Commerce secretary last week.

President Biden previously told CNN that he would be meeting with Xi Jinping in, quote, "the fall." And David, they may still have an opportunity to speak on the sidelines of the APEC summit due to take place in San Francisco in November.

Back to you.

CULVER: That's right. We'll look to see if they come together on that. Interesting to see Li Qiang going --

STOUT: Yeah, we shall see.

CULVER: -- from Shanghai party chief to obviously, what's going to be a big role for him at the G20.

Thanks, Kristie.


We're going to stay on this for a moment. International diplomatic editor Nic Robinson (sic) -- he's joining us now from London. Nic, so the tone and the tenor at the G20 -- how is this going to change, if at all, with Xi not being there?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: You know, I think this is one of those signals that the global structures are changing. That the global alliances are changing. Not only will Xi not be there but also President Putin isn't going.

And I think it's significant that we saw President Xi attend the BRICS summit in South Africa recently where he was lauded. He got a very big red carpet treatment arrival when he was there.

And the signal from the BRICS summit was look, we -- these nations don't particularly like the order that's being set up, let's say, by the G7 and by the G20. We're going to strengthen the BRICS. We're going to invite big -- the big power broker in the Gulf, Saudi Arabia, and some other significant countries to join -- to join the BRICS group.

So I think what we're seeing here is, in essence, something of a diluting of the influence and the -- you know, the ability of the G20 to work together as a force for good in the world. These big powerful economic nations are drivers for the way that the world goes and this weakens it in a way. I think it's hard to say more than that at his moment, though.

CULVER: And Nic, you mentioned Putin. I want to get your take on this. Turkey's President Erdogan is going to be in Russia today. He's going to be speaking with Putin. They're going to be talking about the Ukraine grain export deal that Russia pulled out of back in July. Erdogan had helped convince Putin to stick with the deal for a while. Do you think he can convince him to get back to it?

ROBERTSON: I think this is going to be tough. I mean, the Russians pulled out of the grain deal. And I think perspective on this, of course, is that this was Russia's war of choice. In essence, its complaint right now is that it can't sell its grain and fertilizer around the world in the way that it wants to, but those are the measures that it brought upon itself through this war.

The grain deal that the U.N. and Turkey helped broker previously -- the Black Sea grain deal -- were two parallel deals; one with Ukraine and one with Russia. And Russia unilaterally pulled out a month or so ago, which essentially stymied the whole Black Sea grain deal. And subsequent to that, there's been a concerted effort by Russia to target Ukrainian grain and port facilities -- so denying them the opportunity perhaps to get some of their agricultural products into national markets.

So what's on the table here? Look, the U.N. Secretary-General wrote to the Russian foreign minister last week and said here's a set of concrete proposals to get you back in the grain deal that are going to go some way towards answering your questions.

What the Russian's Lavrov said last week when he met with the Turkish foreign minister is these are promises. We want guarantees. We want substance.

But what we're hearing from the Russian state news agency is that while Erdogan may be going in to talk about the U.N.-brokered grain deal, Putin wants to talk about an alternate grain deal where he ships Russian grain to Turkey who then ships it to the world.

And, of course, the Ukrainian government saying look, don't let -- don't let Russia subvert the Black Sea grain deal. The U.N. says it's hugely important. Russia seems to be making Putin -- wants, it appears, to make an end run around that deal to get some other gains.

CULVER: Nic Robertson, thanks for that context. We really appreciate it. Good to see you.

Let's get to some quick hits around the globe right now.

Typhoon Haikui -- it is sweeping Taiwan leaving at least 44 people injured and forcing more than 3,000 people from their homes. This is the first storm to directly hit the island in four years.

Israel's attorney general urging the Supreme Court to strike down the right-wing government's judicial overhaul law which would limit the high court's own power. All 15 judges will convene for the first time to hear the case next week.

Pope Francis urging Chinese Catholics to be, quote, "good citizens and Christians." This is happening during his first-ever trip to Mongolia. He was celebrating mass there as he made the seemingly off-the-cuff remark.

Natural disasters like floods and fires -- they're causing insurance premiums to soar and some insurance companies are simply pulling out of states like Florida, California, and Louisiana leaving homeowners and businesses with more risks and fewer options.

CNN's Camila Bernal explains what this could mean.


CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Devastating fires, powerful hurricanes, and unexpected earthquakes.

ADAM ROSE, RESEARCH PROFESSOR, USC SOL PRICE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY: Disasters are getting to be part of our normal.

BERNAL (voice-over): And in this new normal, home insurance is only getting pricier and harder to obtain.

GABRIEL ALBARIAN JR., HOA PRESIDENT, WESTLAKE POINTE: One of the embers from the local fires came in and settled on a rain gutter.


BERNAL (voice-over): Gabriel Albarian Jr., the HOA president at Westlake Pointe in Southern California, has lived it firsthand. It's a high-risk fire zone and in 2018, four homes in this community were lost to the Woolsey Fire. He says they were all insured through the HOA until it became impossible.

ALBARIAN: We went to many insurance coverage companies -- State Farm, Allstate. Farmers was the one who denied us and dropped us. All of the primary insurance companies were not providing us coverage.

BERNAL (voice-over): In states like Florida, Louisiana, and California, some insurance providers are no longer issuing new policies. And in areas where insurance is becoming tougher to find, double-digit rate increases are common.

PETE MORAGA, SPOKESPERSON, INSURANCE INFORMATION INSTITUTE: You have increased costs in construction, labor. You have what's called a cost surge where everything goes up because you have so many claims in one place. It does become difficult.

BERNAL (voice-over): Pete Moraga, spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute, says insurance companies can and will pay claims after natural disasters. The problem comes when renewing a policy or buying a new home.

MORAGA: In many cases, many of the homeowner insurers are actually losing money.

BERNAL (on camera): How much was it to rebuild, and how long did it take to rebuild?

ALBARIAN: (Laughing) Yeah, curious question -- $6.8 million was allotted for these four properties and it took roughly four years.

BERNAL (voice-over): The community has since switched from an association insurance to an individual homeowner's insurance but it's still not easy.

ALBARIAN: We are seeing premiums go up, and our renewal is coming up in December and to be quite honest, I'm quite concerned about it.

BERNAL (voice-over): According to the latest data from the California Department of Insurance, about 13 percent of policies were not renewed in 2021. And recent decisions by major insurance companies to drop policies in California could increase that number dramatically in 2023.

ROSE: The long-term solution probably will take some serious rethinking of the entire insurance industry in the face of new realities.

BERNAL (voice-over): But in the meantime, at Westlake Pointe, they're implementing mitigation measures to make their homes more fire- resistant.

ALBARIAN: We're taking measures into our own hands and saying we are making ourselves more fire-safe. And that, to me, is powerful.

BERNAL (voice-over): They believe they won't just protect their homes but also lower their insurance prices.

ALBARIAN: We are a living example of what happened during that fire. It would be a shame for me to put a blind eye to that.

BERNAL (voice-over): Camila Bernal, CNN, Los Angeles.


CULVER: Coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING," NASA bringing four astronauts back from space.

And next, right here, Florida State defeating LSU for the second season in a row. Details on the blowout win in the Bleacher Report -- that's ahead.



CULVER: NASA welcoming home four astronauts after their successful return from a nearly six-month stay on the International Space Station. The astronauts are from the U.S., the United Arab Emirates, and Russia.

With Americans marking their Labor Day holiday today, the Hollywood writers' strike still seems far from any resolution. It's now been four months since America's television and film writers walked off the job. The dispute comes as consumers increasingly embrace streaming media. And the industry adjusts making obsolete the traditional ways writers have been paid and pursued their work. So the issues involve pay and residuals, staffing, and exclusivity contracts, and even AI.

As fans mourn the death of music legend Jimmy Buffett we're learning more about the health battles he faced in his final years. Buffett died Friday after a four-year battle with Merkel cell cancer -- a rare and aggressive form of skin cancer.

On Sunday, hundreds of fans gathered in his former hometown of Key West, Florida to honor his life and career.


JIMMY BUFFETT FANS: Singing "Margaritaville."


CULVER: The crowd then marched down the city's main street in a parade with roots in another city Buffett had deep ties to, New Orleans.

College football is back in full force and it was capped off with a Sunday night showdown in Orlando between two top 10 teams, Florida State and LSU.

Coy Wire has this morning's Bleacher Report. Hey, Coy.


This was the most highly anticipated matchup of the opening weekend of college football. Number eight Florida State putting in that work against the number five LSU Tigers this Labor Day weekend -- more like Slay-bor Day. The 11th meeting between these two teams -- the first time both are ranked in the top 10, though.

FSU quarterback Jordan Travis had himself a day, leading the Noles to 31 unanswered points and throwing for four touchdowns in this one -- three of them going to Michigan State transfer Keon Coleman. But he also ran for a touchdown as well. He surpasses Jameis Winston and is now tied for second on FSU's all-time TV leader list with Chris Rix -- 75 of them in all.

It's a blowout -- 45-24. Florida State taking down number five Tigers.

The U.S. Open now. For the first time at any Majors since 1968, you'll see two Black American men in the quarterfinals. Twenty-year-old Ben Shelton delivering two 149-mile-per-hour serves -- the fastest of the tournament -- in his win over Tommy Paul. And he'll face world number 10 Frances Tiafoe who advances to the quarters for a second-straight year there at the U.S. Open.

It's actually three American men in the quarters as Taylor Fritz advanced as well.

Now, 19-year-old Coco Gauff looking to join her fellow Americans in the quarters, facing former world number one Caroline Wozniacki, who took a few years off and had a couple of children.


The 33-year-old Wozniacki forcing this one to three sets. But Coco got her groove back, ripping Wozniacki 6-1 in the third set.

The third game there becoming the first teenager since Serena to make back-to-back U.S. Open quarterfinals and she was almost as pumped as her dad.


COCO GAUFF, U.S. OPEN: My dad isn't in the box anymore because he gets too nervous. So he's somewhere in one of the suites and he's been apparently doing laps around the stadium, I heard, during the matches. So I don't know if he can hear me right now, but I felt his energy -- his good energy even though I can't really see him.


WIRE: Well, dad can breathe a bit easier now because Coco's path just got smoother.

World number one Iga Swiatek, the defending champ, upset by number 20 Jelena Ostapenko. Ostapenko is now 4-0 all-time versus Swiatek.

Finally, David, dad of the year candidate -- check him -- leaning over to snag a foul ball for his son. Called for crowd interference. This usually gets you kicked out but this fan won the crowd over. Later on, he made sure to let everyone know that he learned his lesson. He said afterwards there was some mixed reaction but it was his first-ever game with his son and he didn't know the rules, and the Astros understood.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a father, I feel like it's my job to make sure that I give him the best moments. I apologize to the Astros organization. You've got to understand -- when it's dropping down it looks like it was coming directly to you, so I reached. Actually it was shock, disgust, happiness, sweat -- a little bit of lust, baby. We're going to be on TV, baby.


WIRE: If that doesn't bring a smile to your face this Labor Day, Mr. David Culver, I don't know what won't.

CULVER: I know, Coy. Yeah, when you embrace it with humility, the crowd -- it'll eventually support you, so that's great.

WIRE: Amen.

CULVER: All right, good to see you, Coy.

WIRE: You, too.

CULVER: I'm David Culver. That does it for me. But still ahead here, thousands of people trapped in the desert after heavy rainfall turned the Burning Man Festival into a muddy disaster. How folks are desperately trying to get out this morning.