Return to Transcripts main page

New Day

Youngkin Aide Who Made Commercials Speak Out on GOP's Win; Cases Ticking Up Again in Children as Numbers Plateau in the U.S.; Black Families Take Search for Missing Loved Ones into Own Hands. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired November 09, 2021 - 07:30   ET



ROBERT BIANCHI, FORMER HEAD PROSECUTOR IN MORRIS COUNTY, NEW JERSEY: People, and protect some property that this crowd starting going after, that he was trapped, he was running. He was trying to get away. Shots are being fired. They're trying to get his weapon. And as we just noted, there's a very important piece with this victim that testified yesterday. He failed to tell police ever in any statement or in any court document that was filed that he actually had a handgun out as he was chasing the defendant.

So Rittenhouse goes down on the ground, and it is true, he even says he was worried about Rittenhouse's safety. That's what the victim says. That's what the journalist said because the crowd was coming after him. And it is true that Rittenhouse has the weapon angled down until the victim brings the gun towards his head, and he fires. It's a classic self-defense case.

Prosecution had a horrible day. If I were the homicide prosecutor of this particular case, I'd be definitely thinking, I've got a serious issue because self-defense requires an honest and reasonable belief that you could be killed or you could suffer from great bodily harm. And both of the state's witnesses are saying that's exactly what Kyle Rittenhouse was facing as that crowd was pursuing him, yelling at him, assaulting him. Now he's on the ground. And they're attacking him.

I don't see it, Brianna. I think the government has a very difficult case here.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: We'll see have to see how these next, next few days ahead go. You two are in agreement with that clearly that you have an uphill battle.

Judge Hatchet, Robert Bianchi, thank you to you both.

BIANCHI: Thank you.

KEILAR: Up next, the key to victory in Virginia.


GLENN YOUNGKIN (R), VIRGINIA GOVERNOR-ELECT: I've been tested. Like all of us. And the lessons I learned I passed along to my children.


KEILAR: What Republicans can learn from ads like that one. Next.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, what Chinese troops are using for target practice. New satellite images ahead.



BERMAN: So moments ago right here on NEW DAY, Maggie Haberman reported that last night, Donald Trump delivered a speech where he claimed that he helped deliver victory to Glenn Youngkin in Virginia. Something to the effect of, without Trump, Youngkin would have lost badly, and he knows that.

It seems the Youngkin campaign might see things differently. One of Youngkin's key advisers wrote yesterday before Trump's speech, "365 days until the midterms, and the Democrats' Donald Trump-era lease in the suburb expired last Tuesday. 2022 will hinge on candidate quality and who is more believably addressing real problems that affect voters' lives."

Joining me now is that adviser, Will Ritter. His ad agency Poolhouse created more than 40 of Youngkin's campaign ads.

Will, thank you so much for being with us. That tweet you wrote caught my eye. You talked about candidate quality and addressing the real needs of voters, and not the Twitter outrage stuff. What exactly do you mean by that?

WILL RITTER, YOUNGKIN CAMPAIGN MEDIA STRATEGIST: Thanks, John. And thanks for having me on this morning. What I meant by that was that the Glenn Youngkin campaign was successful because we focused on three things that were affecting people's lives on a daily basis. Schools, safety, and the cost of living. We specifically avoided national issues, D.C. Twitterverse issues, and talked to people about issues that they cared about. So -- and what we got was a 10-point swing from just a year ago when Biden really killed it in Virginia. So I think that that is a blueprint going forward for the next cycle and for putting Democrats on defense.

BERMAN: It may be a model for Democrats, too, right?

RITTER: It could be. But in this case, you know, you had Terry McAuliffe, was a former governor. He knows what he was doing. You know, the Democratic Party would like to blame him and his candidacy, but I think that there's a problem in the party which is Terry McAuliffe tried to rally up the Democrat base by talking about divisive issues, talking about issues that weren't top of mind to folks, in an effort to drive up Democratic turnout because they'd figured that they already had the suburbs, and they just needed to juice that turnout. Well, that's not true. And it turns out that you can't take any votes

for granted. And Glenn Youngkin was a fantastic talent, worked 18 hours a day, getting that message to those key groups that it really resonated with.

BERMAN: Let me ask, when you talk about that Twitterverse-D.C. type of issue, what are those issues that you think that candidates and campaigns should avoid? What traps do you think they should avoid?

RITTER: Yes. I mean, you know, no offense to this program, but the cable news cycle moves very quickly. And if you try to run your campaign reacting to what's on cable news or reacting to what's on Twitter, you're going to be changing your message every day. We saw Terry McAuliffe doing that. You know, he would throw up an attack and then he would, you know, change it three days later.

On the last day of the campaign, he had 11 different messages right on TV. We had three. Some of these issues (INAUDIBLE) it's not that they aren't important, but what is most important? I mean, he was running an attack ad against Glenn Youngkin on climate change. This is when gas is a dollar more than it was last year. So when the price of groceries are going up. Also most of his advertising was negative, and most of his advertising had to do with Donald Trump.

This is a guy who's not on the ballot. He is not in office. And people are smarter than that. They knew what he was doing.

BERMAN: Let's talk about Donald Trump because as I just noted, Maggie reported that overnight Trump was talking to the NRCC in Tampa and said that Youngkin, you guys, would have lost without him. True?


RITTER: Donald Trump was supportive of Glenn. He endorsed him. But the fact is, John, when we were on the trail, on the bus, people, regular voters were not asking us about Trump and it's not a continual referendum on Trump all the time. They were asking us about schools. They were asking about the rising crime rate. And Glenn addressed those issues instead of, you know, everything being a referendum on, you know, whether you like what Trump said today or tomorrow. So I think the --

BERMAN: Well, you kept him at a distance. Let's face it, you did keep him at a distance. And how important do you think that is for Republicans? Chris Christie out the other night speaking, gave a big speech where he said, we've got to stop talking about the 2020 elections. So how important is that for Republicans to be successful in 2022?

RITTER: I think it's really important. I mean, you don't dwell on losses. And you have a vision that looks forward. And that can't be about relitigating, you know, the 2016 election or the 2020 election. It's got to be going forward. On the last day, the closing message of Terry McAuliffe was we're not going backward. And our message was it's time for a new day in Virginia.

So, you know, one was backward, one was forward. We've got to keep going forward and giving people a message that they can rally around.

BERMAN: And does that mean that Trump is something of a risk for at least some Republicans around the country?

RITTER: I think when Trump is relevant to people's lives, and when, you know, when you have to weigh in on something that he has said, I mean, he is a major figure, then you do it. But I don't think that you take the bait and always talk about a former president when you're talking about your own candidacy.

You know, I mean, Glenn Youngkin wasn't a Trump Republican, he wasn't a Romney Republican. He was a Youngkin Republican. And people appreciate that and that gave a hall pass to independents and to suburban people who had maybe voted for Biden, who had definitely voted for Terry before, to come over and then vote for Glenn.

BERMAN: All right. Will Ritter, Poolhouse, thank you very much for being with us this morning. I appreciate it.

RITTER: Thanks, John.

KEILAR: The CDC says close to 60 percent of Americans are now vaccinated. At least 300,000 kids have been vaccinated since that shot was rolled out for 5 to 11-year-olds. But is that enough to put a dent in the number of new cases that we're seeing with children?

Joining us now, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

OK, Sanjay, so, you know, eight weeks of falling cases, but then we're seeing cases among children ticking back up. And overall, the cases seem to be plateauing across the country. What's happening?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think that that is what's happening. And we can show you sort of the -- what's been happening over the past few months with the overall case numbers. And you can see that they've come down. They've been coming down slowly. And they sort of have flatlined a little bit here. But let me show you this in the context of the pandemic overall. Over the last 18 to 20 months.

And what you find is that where we are right now compared to a year ago is pretty similar. The numbers are lower now than they were a year ago. But what was different was that the numbers were shooting straight back up at that point. And now they've still been coming down, maybe plateaued a little bit, but hopefully, you know, continuing to come down and that's because of the vaccination status that you just mentioned.

Children are really the demographic where numbers have continued to go up. And that's the concern. That's why when we talk about the vaccine now being authorized for 5 to 11-year-olds, that's why it could potentially be a big deal because they are increasingly a source of transmission and increasingly a source of new cases in this country.

BERMAN: Where are we compared to last year, Sanjay? Because right about now was when things started to get really bad. GUPTA: Yes, I mean, that's the big thing, John. Again, if we look

overall at the country, we can, you know, do a heat map at this sort of say, OK, the United States, we always paint these numbers with one number, but it's a bunch of different outbreaks in different parts of the country. The south is sort of cooled down a little bit. In part because there was just so much infection down here. Hospitals were overwhelmed.

People, you know, it's a high price to pay, but there's now more natural immunity or infection-acquired immunity in the south. You're seeing some of where the cases are growing in other parts of the country. So ultimately, you know, you may have in combination with vaccine and infection-acquired immunity, you'll get increasing immunity overall. The numbers have come down. But some places, obviously, a very high price to pay.

And let me just point out one thing. Vaccinated versus unvaccinated. This is one of the misconceptions I hear the most. Well, vaccinated, what difference does it make? You can transmit just as much as the unvaccinated. It's simply not true. If we have this graphic, you can see the unvaccinated in blue versus the -- I'm sorry. Unvaccinated in black versus the vaccinated in blue.

You can see, as you mentioned, 60 percent of the country is vaccinated now, they're far less likely to be transmitting this virus. And that's part of controlling this pandemic as well.

KEILAR: You know, Sanjay, I know that one of the things we've been talking so much about is Aaron Rodgers not getting vaccinated, getting COVID, having a lot of anti-vaxx, anti-COVID-19 vaxx rhetoric.


And in the wake of that, there was a new poll that finds an alarming number of people either believe vaccine misinformation or they don't know if something is true or false. Walk us through this.

GUPTA: Yes, I mean, you could take a look there. I mean, this is kind of stunning. I mean, this is the world in which we live that, you know, the majority of people either believe or are unsure about at least one of these pieces of misinformation.

It's a problem. And you know, look, in some ways, this is, you know, 20 years' worth of work for me, you know, being a reporter, trying to address the numbers like that on the screen. And I think there's a few things that sort of jump out at me. I do think that people need to be getting into audiences where they aren't typically heard and talking about this stuff. I think there's lots of echo chambers that are happening all over the country.

And it's striking when I go talk to people who have misinformation. We just did a piece on this last week. And what they hear, what they believe, you know, it's really remarkable. And it's not malignant. It's not that there's, you know, not yelling in my face about it and say, well, this was what we thought. You know, the vaccines don't do anything. They just, they cause all these problems. So there's that information. But I also think the social media

component of this is so striking as well. If you go on and you search for anything, you can find confirmation bias so quickly. And it's very hard in a world of democratized information to really sort out what is good and bad. And that's going to be a problem. I mean, misinformation travels as fast. It can be as deadly as the virus itself.

And that's something that I think is going to be one of the real lessons. Misinformation existed for a long time. People like Peter Hotez would tell me, don't give it fuel. Kind of ignore it. But I don't think that we can do that anymore, given how much it's out there and the impact it's having.

BERMAN: Yes. If only there were a vaccine against misinformation.

GUPTA: Right.

BERMAN: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, we appreciate the efforts you're making. I know you're trying. We know you're trying. You're out there talking to everyone who will listen to you about the truth, and you're doing such an important job. Thank you.

GUPTA: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. Why a man who almost died of COVID apologized to the hospital workers who saved him.

KEILAR: Plus, a Republican congressman tweeting out a clip that shows him killing his colleague. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, see how she's responding.

And next, a desperate father pleading for answers and most of all attention in the case of his missing son.


DAVID ROBINSON, FATHER OF DANILE ROBINSON: I'll say, you know what, they're not going to look for my son, I'm going to have to do it myself. Before




BERMAN: The FBI reports that 40 percent of the thousands of Americans that go missing every year are people of color. And though some get headlines, other families are forced to take action on their own to find them.

CNN's Sara Sidner with the latest.


SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the break of dawn, in the middle of the Arizona desert, a crowd of strangers meet for one purpose.

ROBINSON: You guys coming out here to help me out. I really appreciate that, from the bottom of my heart.

SIDNER: To help another stranger, a father, desperately searching for his 24-year-old son Daniel Robinson.

ROBINSON: Since he was a child, he liked to challenge everything.

SIDNER: He was born with a challenge.

ROBINSON: And I want to introduce him to prosthetics because he's born with one hand. We quickly learned that's something that (INAUDIBLE) e didn't want. He let nothing stopped him. He decided to be a geologist once he got into freshman year in college. He excelled at that, you know, he graduated with honors.

SIDNER: Daniel's first job is checking the viability of water wells in the Arizona desert.

ROBINSON: He loved this area, of course, because of the -- you're a geologist, this is the best place to be.

SIDNER: But the terrain became a hellscape for his dad when Daniel went missing back in June from his job site.

(On-camera): And what number search is this?

ROBINSON: This is search number 14.

SIDNER (voice-over): Navigating the dangers in the desert, the army veteran knows firsthand time is of the essence.

ROBINSON: When I called the Buckeye Police Department, they told me that I had to wait actually three hours because they had 12-hour I guess report time we can say a person is missing. Then I called them back and put in a missing person report. I got very worried. That's when I got very worried. I asked the Buckeye Police Department to go out and search the area. They also told me that they were going to send a vehicle out there, a helicopter out to search for him. I was relieved. And then he called back an hour later and said, no, it was a no go.

I'm his dad and he's my son. I lost all sense of reality at that moment. I said, you know what, they're not going to look for my son, I'm going to have to do it myself.

SIDNER: Before he arrived, police did decide to search on foot and with helicopters.

(On-camera): This is the last place your son was seen?

ROBINSON: The last place.

SIDNER: What do you think happened, David?

ROBINSON: I think a lot happened here. I'm very suspicious.

SIDNER (voice-over): But he doesn't know what. A month in, there is a break in the case and police call Robinson.

ROBINSON: I got afraid, actually, that it's going to be some bad news. He said, no, we just found his vehicle.

CHIEF LARRY HALL, BUCKEYE, ARIZONA POLICE DEPARTMENT: Some ranchers found it and then at that point we conducted our investigation and additional searches.

SIDNER: What was the condition of the car? If it had rolled over, it sounds like it was pretty bad.

HALL: Yes, the car was on its side. The sunroof was kicked out at that point. So he might have exited through the sunroof.

SIDNER (voice-over): His wrecked car in a ravine, both air bags deployed, Daniel's cell phone, clothes he was wearing that day and a case of water all found at the crash site. But not Daniel.

(On-camera): People don't just disappear into thin air.

HALL: True.

SIDNER: Does that sort of feel like what's happened here?

HALL: Yes. Yes. It is very, very challenging case.

SIDNER: No matter how much the family asks for this to be a criminal investigation, can you make that happen?

HALL: We can't make up evidence. Absolutely suspicious circumstances related to the case.


SIDNER (voice-over): Frustrated and heartbroken, Robinson hired a private investigator.

(On-camera): Where are we going?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Down here is where the vehicle was recovered from.

SIDNER: Is that the glass from the car?


SIDNER: When you look at this accident, what are the discrepancies that you noticed right away?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe it was more than one collision.

SIDNER: What is the data from the black box of the car tell you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That there was 11 additional miles on the vehicle since the air bags came out.

SIDNER: What does that tell you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That tells me it was crashed somewhere else.

SIDNER: Does that sound suspicious? What explains that?

HALL: We had the national expert that came in and provided us his findings and then they ended up speaking to an expert at Jeep and the expert says yes, sometimes that happens and it's not unusual.

SIDNER (voice-over): But the data also shows someone tried to start the car 46 times after the crash.

HALL: That's something we can't explain.

SIDNER (on-camera): It begs the question, again, the family is saying, it's criminal, it's got to be, or he's in danger, do something.

HALL: Right. Right. No. I agree. And -- but we need information. We need evidence.

SIDNER: He's got a lot of theories. His words I think were, I don't think they cared. What do you say to that?

HALL: Couldn't be furthest from the truth.

SIDNER (voice-over): Losing hope, Robinson began pleading for media coverage.

ROBINSON: It literally took three months.

SIDNER: While Robinson search for his son, the country became riveted by media coverage of another missing person's case, the case of Gabby Petito.

ROBINSON: (INAUDIBLE) think we love our children less or something or they're less important.

SIDNER: In 2020, more than 543,000 missing persons' records were filed. More than 480,000 were cleared and 40 percent of the missing are people of color.

DERRICA WILSON, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, BLACK AND MISSING FOUNDATION: There are a lot of Gabby Petitos and Natalee Holloways in the black and brown community.

SIDNER: That's why former police officer Derrica Wilson co-founded Black and Missing, Inc. and says too often their cases go untold. Eventually local stations did stories and citizens began helping search.

(On-camera): Did you know Daniel?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I just wanted to help.

SIDNER: You're just helping out a stranger on a Saturday?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what, I can't imagine what that man's going through.

SIDNER (voice-over): As the search for Daniel goes into its fifth month, another family is in the midst of a terrible mystery for a fifth year. The family of Nicky and Ariana Fitts.

CONTESSA FITTS, AUNT OF ARIANNA: Ariana is very energetic. Very happy.

SIDNER: Two-year-old Arianna went missing under the most suspicious of circumstances in the San Francisco Bay area in 2016. Her mother Nicky Fitts was found in a shallow grave in San Francisco's McLaren Park, but Arianna was gone.

FITTS: It, one, breaks my heart that Arianna is not with her mom. And Arianna is not with her family. But it also breaks my heart even more is that I know that Nicky wants nothing more than Arianna to be with us, to be home.

SIDNER: Tessa Fitts says she is convinced her niece Arianna was taken by people close to Arianna's mother. San Francisco Police searched for weeks, they had some leads, but no arrests. A digitally altered photo was made of what she may look like now.

FITTS: And she's 8 now. I don't want to see this in a picture. I want to see her face in person.

SIDNER (on-camera): Should Arianna Fitts be a household name, like JonBenet Ramsey?

WILSON: Absolutely. Why is her case any different from Caylee Anthony? I can tell you. The color of her skin was the only difference.

SIDNER (voice-over): For five desperate years, the family has continued searching, using flyers, social media and Black and Missing Inc.

(On-camera): Do you think it has anything to do with color?

FITTS: I try to put myself in the mindset of the race issue with her media coverage. All I want is for there to be the media coverage for her. I think she deserves that.

SIDNER (voice-over): The Fitts and the Robinsons want only one thing. Hugging their missing children once again.

(On-camera): Do you think that Arianna is still alive?

FITTS: I do believe that Arianna is still alive and it would mean everything to me to know where she is and to find her. I wait for that day every single day. I believe that day will come. SIDNER: How long will you search?

ROBINSON: Until I find my son. I have to. I mean he's my responsibility.


BERMAN: And Sara Sidner joins us now.

Sara, I think this is so important and I'm so glad you focused on it because we've had a chance to talk to so many families like this, people of color, and what they tell us they want, they just want the acknowledgement that it is happening. They want people to see them.

SIDNER: It is absolutely true. And I think that's where some of the frustration lies. And I'll be honest with you, when I was talking to Daniel Robinson's father, David.