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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Foreign Policy Takes Spotlight at GOP Primary Debate; Trump Holds Florida Rally As GOP Rivals Debate Nearby; Secretary Blinken Maps Out U.S. Wish for Post-War Plan for Gaza. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired November 09, 2023 - 05:00   ET




GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will be telling Bibi, finish the job once and for all with these butchers, Hamas.

VIVEK RAMASWAMY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do you want Cheney in three-inch heels? It seems we got two of them on stage tonight.

LESTER HOLT, DEBATE MODERATOR: All right. Mr. Ramaswamy, thank you.

NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It'd first like to say they're five-inch heels.


KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: Hamas, high heels and even TikTok. Republicans not named Trump debate for more than an hour and a half before even mentioning the issue that sunk their party on Tuesday, abortion.


HUNT: Good morning to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Kasie Hunt. It is Thursday, November 9th, the morning after.

Five Republican presidential contenders duked it out on the big stage in Miami last night. Foreign policy took the spotlight at the third Republican debate. The candidates all agreed on supporting Israel and opposing Hamas, Iran, and China.


SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to stand strong with our Jewish Americans.

DESANTIS: Hamas should release every hostage and they should unconditionally surrender.

HALEY: China is buying oil from Iran, Russia is getting drones and missiles from Iran. And there is an unholy alliance.


HUNT: All critical issues, of course, but it was abortion rights that won major victories for Democrats in multiple states, earlier this week and cost the Republicans extraordinarily key seats.

The issue, though, was missing for the first 99 minutes of the debate. Also missing, Donald Trump. He held a rally nearby and there are a few jabs at him by his rivals, but honestly, not that many.


DESANTIS: He owes it to you to be on this stage and explain why he should get another chance. He should explain why he did not have Mexico pay for the border wall. He should explain why he racked up so much debt.


HUNT: But the most tense moments came during several exchanges between Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley and it was centered on TikTok


RAMASWAMY: In the last debate, should get fun of me for joining TikTok while her own daughter was actually using the app for a long time. She might want to take care of her family, first --

HALEY: Leave my daughter out of your voice.


RAMASWAMY: -- before preaching to anybody else, your adult daughter, the next generation of Americans are using and that's actually the point. You have her supporters cropping her up, that's fine. Here's the truth, the easy --

HALEY: You're just scum.


HUNT: We have an all-star panel with us early this morning to talk all of this, CNN political commentator, former Ted Cruz communications director Alice Stewart; Republican strategist, former RNC communications director, Doug Heye; and Washington correspondent for "The Atlanta Journal Constitution", Tia Mitchell.

Good morning to all of you. I'm so grateful to have you here.

Doug, let me start with you, because things got pretty heated between Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy. He, you know -- Haley took those attacks in real stride, I would say. I'm not sure Vivek came off really that great in these exchanges.

What is your view of how he handles himself and how he handled himself that last night? DOUG HEYE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I can't think of a time when

anybody said, well, Vivek handled him very well and really put a good face in front of himself for voters. And ultimately, if you go back to the first debate, very similar to last night, the reaction that voters had, the reaction that viewers had was, you know what, he reminds me of that smart aleck little brother that I saw in that movie that I didn't really like. And that's a problem for fake if he wants to move forward and do anything more than, you know, vitamin supplements or go on a book tour and for Fox or whatever it may be.

If you want to have a serious, substantive debate, he is not your guy for it. He is really smart and shrewd communicator, but he's not ultimately somebody's going to move the party forward.

HUNT: Yeah, I mean, I think one of the critical things, too, for winning elections is likability, you know? And I don't know if that -- if that meets the moment there.

Alice Stewart, I want tosh show you something he said that's getting a lot of attention. This morning, he's already -- his campaign has already tried to walk it back and claim he didn't say what he said he did. I want you to take a look at what Vivek Ramaswamy had to say about Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine.




RAMASWAMY: Ukraine is not a paragon of democracy. This is a country that has banned 11 opposition parties. It has consolidated all media into one state TV media. That is not democratic.

It has threatened not to hold elections this year unless the U.S. forks overt more money. That is not democratic.

It has celebrated a Nazi in its ranks, the comedian in cargo pants, a man called Zelenskyy, do it in their own ranks. That is not democratic.


HUNT: So, the campaign is now claiming he was actually talking about Zelenskyy applauding a former Ukrainian Nazi when he was in Canada.

The bottom line here, he really is buying into the way Putin, frankly, is talking about Ukraine.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely, he is on an island in the GOP party when it comes to his lack of support for Ukraine and the need to support Ukraine and fighting for democracy. Look, last night --

HUNT: Well, is he on an island, though? I mean, I'm just -- I'm just struck by him picking up this pro-Putin messaging that does seem to be -- honestly, there are a ton of people in Congress who won't vote to send more aid to Ukraine. He just seems to be the one that's kind of, you know, out there saying it.

STEWART: Yeah, he's been out there much earlier than many people, but we are hearing from many people in Congress that they just want more accountability, like tell us where this money is going, let us be more transparent in how this money is going, and we will be more supportive of putting this aid to Ukraine because it is a fight for democracy. It is not charity. It is to help protect democracy across the world.

And I have another takeaway, also, from Vivek Ramaswamy. Look, there is no disputing the fact that he wants to be the king of wokeness on the stage, and he articulates that in every debate.

But when he goes after -- we just heard him go after not only Nikki Haley, he went after Kristen Welker, one of the moderators of the debate, he went after Nikki Haley's daughter, he went after Ronna McDaniel for -- blaming her for Republican losses. That is really hard to see that as anything less than someone who is a chauvinist pig against women, blaming women for all the ails of the Republican Party, when we know that Donald Trump is the one that anchors the Republican Party, right now.

So, I don't see how that is going to help boost him with women voters by any stretch of the imagination. It certainly will not win him any points with rational voters who are looking at him as someone who might be the standard bearer for this party, moving forward.

HUNT: You know, I am so glad you pointed that out, Alice, because there were plenty of men available on stage for him to attack and we did not see him do that in nearly the terms that he attacked the women that you listed.

Tia, standby, we have to take a quick break. We're going to have much more with the penalty.

Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis also getting into it over China. We're going to show you those sparks flying just ahead.




DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I was watching these guys, they are not watchable.

Somebody said, oh! Some -- one of the dumber ones, he doesn't have the courage to stand up. Well, listen, I'm standing in front of tens of thousands of people right now and it's on television. That's a hell of a lot harder to do than a debate.


HUNT: OK. Let's bring back our panel, Alice Stewart, Doug Heye, Tia Mitchell.

Tia, I do want to note, the "AP" reported that that arena where he was held 5,200 people and not all the seats were full, so tens of thousands have been an exaggeration in terms of who's actually in that room.

But, look, the bottom line reality here is that this was -- the debate was, you know, the attack of the undercard, if you will, and so far, they haven't been able to break up in a way that's fundamentally changed the race and actually taking on Donald Trump. I mean, how much did last night matter in the end?

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: Well, you know, that's a hard question because I don't want to say debates don't matter, I don't want to say there are no undecided voters or no persuadable voters, but what we are seeing is as we get closer and closer to primary season, a lot of Republicans have already made up their minds. We know polls are just snapshots and not predictors, but the polls have been very consistent both nationally and in these key early states, that Trump is the front runner, barring just a meltdown. He is expected to win this Republican nomination.

Now, I think where this matters is I know it keeps being said, but it's true. What the people on the stage of the debate last night are really competing for is to be that challenger to Trump, to be that second option, to see if voters at some point to start looking for a Trump alternative. And so, that's to me what these debates are about right now, especially with Trump choosing not to be on stage.

HUNT: Yeah.

So, Doug Heye, to that point, let's talk about how that race is shaking out because it was all about Nikki Haley last night. Ron DeSantis had been, you know, the front runner in the race for number two. What was your sense of whether or not DeSantis did anything to change that reality that he has been falling when compared with Nikki Haley, and how did Haley do in her quest to solidify a potentially new status as the top in the race for number two?

HEYE: Yeah. Three minutes into the debate, Kasie, I got a email from a friend who worked for the Ready for Hillary sort of start-up campaign, who said, my god, I haven't heard anybody talk about this campaign the way Ron DeSantis did in his opening statement. Two hours later, we didn't hear from her again.

And ultimately, that is what we see our fits and starts of people who sort of want to run against Donald Trump, but ultimately don't. And what happened last night is sort of a partial culmination of where we've been for months now.

If we go back to when Donald Trump was indicted, the first time, second time, third time, pick your time, it's that Republican candidates, people who say they are running against Donald Trump, ultimately aren't, because they have not only failed to go after Donald Trump when he was at his most vulnerable as a candidate, they made sure that Donald Trump was and remained the front runner by shoring up and reinforcing his key messaging.


So, if you decide that you want to play basketball midway through the fourth quarter of the game, you're going to find that you're 40 points behind, and it's very difficult for you, ultimately, to get over that margin. And that means that you're running where hope is a strategy and hope is never a strategy, politically.

I think we saw that best, or sort of didn't see it best, when it came to Tim Scott. Tim Scott was one of my favorite members of Congress when he was in the House. He is a great senator.

But ultimately, why is he running for president anymore? I think it is a very tough thing for him and his campaign to ultimately answer.

HUNT: Alice, weigh in here.

STEWART: Yeah, look, the goal right now for any of those on the stage is to take out Donald Trump, by and far. And, look, the debate moderators last night served up the question on a silver platter, and some of them hits the ball, some of them chose not to. But the goal really from here on out is every single time you have the opportunity to go after Donald Trump, you do so. And there are many opportunities to do so.

Nikki Haley has continued to hit him on how he contributed to the debt. DeSantis hits him on how Donald Trump is a loser and DeSantis has won. Many can hit him on the fact that he never built the wall that Mexico was going to pay for. And issue after issue, most specifically, Donald Trump is spending his time in a courtroom and not on the campaign trail, and how is he going to help the American people when he is fighting for his own freedom and not for the American people?

Chris Christie is the only one that continuously goes after Donald Trump. I would encourage all these candidates to do this early and often because he is the one to beat. But as we're sitting, 65 days out -- around 65 days from the first Iowa -- from Iowa caucus, this is becoming more and more an opportunity we need to find a consensus candidate. Get the Republican Party united behind one person, one voice, to take out Donald Trump and ultimately take out Joe Biden or whoever the Democratic candidate will be come November.

HUNT: I mean, if the Republican Party is unit behind anybody right now, it is Donald Trump. We shall see.

All right, guys, standby for me because you will be here throughout the hour with much more analysis.

But, we do want to go to Israel because Secretary of State Blinken is mapping out the U.S. wish for a post-war Gaza, one that does not push out Palestinians but empowers them in government.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S.SECRETARY OF STATE: We must also work on the affirmative elements to get to a sustained peace. These must include the Palestinian people's voices and aspirations at the center of post- crisis governance in Gaza. And it must include a sustained mechanism for reconstruction in Gaza and a pathway to Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in states of their own, with equal measures of security, freedom, opportunity, and dignity.


HUNT: All right. This comes as Israeli forces claimed they have destroyed a Hamas tunnel near a U.N. school in Gaza.

Let's bring in now Gustavo Valdes, who is live for us in Tel Aviv.

Gustavo, obviously, Blinken's comments there in response to what the Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu had to say about a potential occupation, essentially, by the Israelis and Gaza. How is this playing out in Israel?

GUSTAVO VALDES, CNN CORRSPONDENT: Well, the idea here is to find out what that post-offensive is going to look like. Netanyahu made it clear that they believe they should have control, security control over Gaza, at least for the foreseeable future.

Blinken and the rest of the G7 members that he is meeting with in Tokyo say that perhaps a short period of time is necessary, but they believe that control over the Gaza strip should be with the Palestinian people. Today, right now, we are in that window set by the Israeli defense forces in which they are allowing people from northern constitute move south. It's going to be a six-hour period, the longest so far to allow the movement of people.

Yesterday, they set out some 50,000 people to cross out. Many of them that were able to talk to reporters told horror stories as to how everything they left behind is destroyed. They don't believe they will be able to return to their normal lives once the conflict comes to a stop. Meanwhile, there are ongoing negotiations to find a way to come to a cease-fire. Israel, the United States, Qatar, and Hamas are trying to see how they can make sure that the hostages are released and Israel can agree to a cease-fire. So far, that agreement is very elusive.

HUNT: All right. Gustavo Valdes for us in Tel Aviv, Israel, thank you very much for that report.


Trump's attorneys preparing to mount their defense at the former president's civil fraud trial after Ivanka Trump's testimony. That's next.


HUNT: Welcome back.

Quick hits across America now.

Team Trump is set to begin its defense at the former president's civil fraud trial in New York. The prosecution rested after Ivanka Trump testified she was not involved in preparing her father's personal statements.

The House Oversight Committee has issued subpoenas to Hunter and James Biden, the president's son and brother. Republicans are looking to determine if the president committed an impeachable offense tied to his family's foreign business dealings.


President Biden is set to celebrate the new contract negotiated by United Auto Workers today at a Stellantis plant, set to reopen in Belvedere, Illinois. Biden became the first sitting president to walk a picket line during the six-week strike.

All right, more record breaking heat expected from Georgia to Delaware, today, after temperatures clocked into the 90s in portions of Texas and Oklahoma. Let's remember, it is November.

Let's get straight to our weatherman, Derek Van Dam.

Derek, good morning. Always good to see you.

These temperatures are kind of nuts.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS CERTIFIED METEOROLOGIST: Yes, setting November all-time records. So, you're going to take those shorts and tee shirts, throw them back into the closet for next year, and you're going to pull out the flannels, because it's time. The cold front is coming.

These are the warmest temperatures we saw yesterday. Look at Wichita Falls, Texas, 91 degrees, beating not only a daily record, but also a monthly record.

Here is the change, if you are in Memphis, this is just one example. You have been enjoying the lower 80s, the t-shirt weather all week, but look where you are heading, 58 for Friday, you can see exactly where that cold front is located, the separation between the warmth across the Southeast and the cooler weather across the central parts of the U.S.

There is a progression of this front with the course of the weekend, and thank goodness, this cold front is going to bring in some drought relief to the Southeast.

But first, I have to show you this. Check this out, wintry mix this morning. If you are waking up across northern New England, you have a few snowflakes flying in the sky across Vermont, New Hampshire, upstate New York, even a mixture of rain and snow, perhaps ice and they're in and around Albany. So, be on the lookout for that.

This is all rain across Texas, part of a larger storm system that's going to help cool our temperatures. But look how that's going to impact the weather across the Southeast.

It hasn't rained in nearly eight month across some portions of Georgia and into the Carolinas. No wonder we have drought conditions that continue to broaden and kind of expand and reach across this area. We need this rain, we'll take it, even though it will be light, it is still saying something -- Kasie.

HUNT: All right. I, for one, not ready for a wintry mix in my life. So I'm glad it's still up in New England. But, you know, I guess we'll see.

Derek Van Dam, thank you very much, my friend.

VAN DAM: Wait until you see next week's forecast. Yeah.

HUNT: See you tomorrow.

VAN DAM: All right.

HUNT: So, who do we think came out on top and round three among the Republican presidential hopefuls not named Trump? We're going to walk you through all the fireworks from last night's debate.

And, the U.S. strikes an Iranian weapons facility following those attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria.