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Washington's Two Senate Candidates Both Embarrassingly Dodge Questions From CNN; CNN To Premiere No Ordinary Life, A Film About Women Photojournalists; Liz Truss Chosen To Replace Boris Johnson As Conservative Party Leader And U.K. Prime Minister. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired September 05, 2022 - 08:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: In two interviews with CNN's Danna Bash on State of the Union, both Democratic and Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in Washington State tried to maneuver around some tough questions. Listen to Dana, ask Republican candidate Tiffany smiley about the legitimacy of President Biden's election.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Simple yes or no. Do you believe that Joe Biden won the 2020 election fair and square?

TIFFANY SMILEY (R) WASHINGTON SENATE CANDIDATE: Yes, he is our President. Yes. And to be clear, you know, I think in 2016, Hillary Clinton had concerns. Stacey Abrams had concerns. This is an issue on both sides of the aisle. This isn't a Democrat or Republican issue.

BASH: OK. You didn't -- you didn't say that he was legitimately elected. I just want to give you one more chance to say that or if you are comfortable with their answer, we'll move on.

SMILEY: Yes, I think I made it clear. He is our president and again, I am focused on the voters of Washington State. I'm focused on the future.


BERMAN: And this is Dana asking Democratic Senator Patty Murray about the strategy of indirectly boosting extremist Republican candidates in primaries in order to better democratic chances in a general election.


BASH: If election deniers are a threat to democracy, are you okay with your fellow Democrats helping them win their primaries?

SEN. PATTY MURRAY, (D-WA): Well, here's what I know. Here in my state, I work every day out across my state, using my voice, using my ability to talk to people and to work with them on the issues they care about, and to tell them where I stand.


BERMAN: And with us now, Dana Bash, CNN chief political correspondent and co-anchor of CNN State of the Union. So, you know, politicians not wanting to answer tough questions, not new, but it was interesting to watch why they were uncomfortable, and about what I want to stipulate. These are two very, very different issues that you are pressing them on. What do you think, Dana?

BASH: Well, very different issues. But actually, they do come down as I was sort of listening back come down to the same question, which is the existential threat that Joe Biden described last week that Liz Cheney describes every day that they consider the denial of the 2020 election, and everything that has come from it, the existential threat that that poses to democracy.

That is why when I was asking Tiffany Smiley, the Republican candidate in Washington State, the question about Biden's legitimacy isn't just rhetoric, it's not just a word. It's a word that has meaning because of what Donald Trump has done to the Republican electorate in particular.

And then on the Democratic side, they have made, you heard it from the President, loud and clear last week, the question of a threat to democracy from these sections of the Republican Party, so fundamental, so front and center. And yet there are Democrats who are trying to help the people who believe just that because they think in their primaries because they think it will help Democrats in the general elections. And the question is whether that is morally consistent.

And Patty Murray eventually got to the point where she said, Look, we want to win the majority, effectively, like we're going to do what it takes. And in some ways, you know, there are some Democrats who say, finally, the Democratic leaders are playing ball like the Republicans do. Others who say, Well, wait a second, if we're going to demand morality and consistency from Republicans, we should do the same. It's very, very complicated.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, you went to Michigan where actually abortion is a big issue in the governor's race there. I want to watch that.


BASH (voice-over): At the Michigan State Fair Labor Day weekend means lifestyle competitions. Proud grandfather, Dick Roselle came to watch granddaughter Abby show her pigs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is my pig. Her name is Billie Jean. I love her to death.

BASH: Still, even here, Labor Day weekend also means election day is around the corner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I lean towards the right. But I want what's best for the state and for the country, you know, when it comes to my politicians.

BASH (on camera): So you're undecided?


BASH (voice-over): His wife Dawn is undecided too. They're both Republican voters wary of a total ban on abortion.

BASH (on camera): Has abortion ever been an issue that has driven your vote before?


BASH: It's new this year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I want to hear more what Tudor Dixon has to say about abortion before I decide who I'm going to vote for.


BASH (voice-over): Tudor Dixon's Michigan's Republican nominee for governor. So far most of what voters hear about her abortion position is from Democratic ads flooding the airwaves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's told us exactly who she is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you for the exemptions for rape and incest?


BASH: Since winning the Republican primary August 2nd, Dixon kept a low profile on the campaign trail. For Democratic opponent Governor Gretchen Whitmer, not so much.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D) MICHIGAN: The only reason Michigan continues to be a pro-choice state is because of my veto on my lawsuit.

BASH: Even before Roe v Wade was overturned, Whitmer filed a lawsuit to prevent a 1931 Michigan abortion ban from taking effect. The state supreme court now gets the chance to rule on whether an abortion rights measure that drew nearly 600,000 valid signatures will be on the ballot in November.

WHITMER: The vast majority of people in the state support a woman being able to make her own decision on whether it's one they would do or not.

BASH: It's a motivating issue for voters like Emily Sherita and her mother Rhonda, who joined Governor Whitmer at a women's roundtable on Wednesday.

EMILY SHEREDA, MICHIGAN RESIDENT: People who are more so in the middle like my mom, they will be more so pushed to vote for people who are going to protect their reproductive rights.

RHONDA MCCLINTON, MICHIGAN RESIDENT: I could not have said that better myself.

BASH: Not everyone agrees.

AARON GARDNER, REPUBLICAN RUNNING FOR STATE SENATE: I don't think that the abortion issue was a big deal in Michigan.

BASH: Aaron Gardner, a Republican running for State Senate and Tudor Dixon supporter was protesting outside of Whitmer campaign event.

GARDNER: Most of the people care about his money in their pockets. Let's be realistic, gas prices have been skyrocketing through the roof. And our leadership in Michigan and in Lansing has filled the voters multiple times.

BASH: In Bay City, Whitmer touted job creation at a new manufacturing plant addressing economic issues head on.

BASH (on camera): How much of an uphill climb is it for you as the incumbent governor?

WHITMER: People are struggling to put food on the table the cost of everything has gone up. We've seen the cost of gas continuously come down for the last month and a half. That's a good thing. I'm trying to give people relief.

BASH (voice-over): Through a spokesman, Tudor Dixon declined our request for an interview or campaign but not share details on any public events or provide a surrogate for us to speak with.

DIXON: We want education freedom in the state of Michigan.

BASH: Dixon watched Virginia's Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin win his blue leaning state last year by campaigning on the cultural divide and education. She's borrowing from his playbook.

DIXON: We think you should know what books are in your school library. And we think you should know what the class syllabus is for your child.

BASH: Whitmer seems to have learned too.

WHITMER: I've just created a parent advisory council to me. I think it's really important not to be disconnected but to really empower parents.

BASH: Michigan's governor became a national figure during the pandemic for decisions on closures and masks were not always popular. We heard that back at the Michigan State Fair.

BASH (on camera): What do you think of Governor Whitmer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think she's done a bad job especially with COVID situation shutting the state down.

BASH: And yet -- do you like Tudor Dixon? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I did everything except for the abortion issue that they it seems like she's -- you got to be more liberal with that abortion situation.

BASH (voice-over): Voters in a crucial battleground state up in the air as summer comes to a close.


KEILAR: Fascinating to see what Republicans there think about abortion. Those folks who spoke with, will they vote on that issue?

BASH: They're not sure they want to hear more from the Republican candidate Tudor Dixon, who is basically let Gretchen Whitmer fill a vacuum and define her on the abortion issue. What has been fascinating in spending time there is and you picked up on it right away, is you know, you hear national Democrats say abortion is going to be a motivating issue.

The fact that I talked to a handful of Republicans, self-described Republicans who say I'm not comfortable with somebody as strident as Tudor Dixon appears to be an abortion. That is very, very telling for the national issue. And in a state like Michigan, if abortion is literally on the ballot with a referendum, that could make a huge difference maybe like it did at Kansas.

KEILAR: Really fascinating. Dana, thank you for that.

BASH: Thank you.

BERMAN: So next we're going to be joined by two of the brave female photo journalists from CNN who braved the frontlines of war, along with CNN chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour, that's next.



BERMAN: Five trailblazing combat camerawomen risked their lives to bring us the biggest headlines from around the world. And the new CNN film, "No Ordinary Life," the camera woman who brought the front lines to the headlines, we get behind the scenes look at how they made their mark.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Being a camera woman is a tough job.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were sent out on these stories. They were very dangerous. We got right in the middle of it.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Focusing on the very human aspects of these conflicts, whether it's war or famine, storytelling changed and women were at the forefront of that movement.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're in. You're the one that's going to see it and you're the one that's going to record it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This from a bullet casing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had to be twice as good and twice as fast just to be on the equal playing ground as a guy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We weren't breaking down certain barriers and conceptions about women in the field.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The camera women who brought the frontlines to the headlines.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were combat camerawoman. We come back with the goods.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No Ordinary Life, Monday September 5th at 10:00 only on CNN.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some people just aren't cut out for an ordinary life.


KEILAR: And here now with the goods the director of No Ordinary Life, Heather O'Neill, former CNN photojournalist Cynde Strand. Cynde also previously served as CNN executive director of international news his coverage and CNN chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour with us.


Heather, this is so exciting to see this. You are, of course, a CNN veteran. You worked with these women over the years. Why did you think it was so important to tell their stories?

HEATHER O'NEILL, DIRECTOR, "NO ORDINARY LIFE": Well, these women were all legends. And the genesis of the whole film started in 2006, when I met Mary Rogers in Baghdad, and she was just struck me as just a fierce journalist. And I had never met a camerawoman before.

And as I kind of got through my career at CNN, I started to meet Cynde and the other women. And I just knew this was an untold story. I think viewers around the world have seen their work. And I wanted to make a film that introduced the women who were actually behind the camera covering these stories.

KEILAR: And Cynde, I know this is a big ask, but just tell us a little about what it's like to be on the front line of these conflicts are unfolding right in front of you, especially as a woman.

CYNDE STRAND, FMR. CNN PHOTOJOURNALIST: Well, you know, when you are in the thick of it on the front line, it really, you know, I can't say gender plays a role, because you just have to be focused and you have to, you know, get in and document whatever is in happening in front of you and safely get out. But I will say, you know, we all have different fingerprints. And if my story was -- if my storytelling or journalism was impacted by me being a female, then that's a great thing. Because the more diversity we have in our storytelling and story choice, it's so important.

KEILAR: Yes. And Christiane, you're nodding there. I mean, you have been out time and time again in the field with Cynde and the other women in the film.

AMANPOUR: yes, I mean, listen, I just listened to those clips. And I think it was Cynde who said, We came back with the goods. Isn't that the bottom line? Look, my whole foreign careers as a foreign correspondent for decades out there started in the hands of these women. I've worked with all of them. And in the first Gulf War, particularly I worked with Maria and Jane, who were prominently featured as well. And that's how I grew up.

There was no difference for me between men and women in terms of the competence, in terms of how safe I felt, in terms of them getting the goods. And we really kicked the proverbial butt all over the field. Let me tell you, we really did. And there was literally no question that these women could not do what the men did.

In fact, we did better in some cases, because in the world, we live in most of the, you know, subjects, you know, who we were training our cameras on, they would look at these women, us, coming at them and their first reaction was to say, OK, go ahead. And then once we got our foot in the door, we were off and running.

So it was amazing. And Cynde an incredible camerawoman and she says they all and we all have different footprints and fingerprints, we do. And you can tell a Cynde footage from a Jane footage or a Maria or Margaret and Mary and it was a joy, a real joy to work with all of them.

KEILAR: You know, Cynde, the thing about PJ's is when you're bringing back the goods that may require at a time when everyone else may be taking cover that you're pointing your camera and you're in danger. Is there at a time -- is there a certain particular story or conflict that you cover that really stands out to you that you think about a lot?

STRAND: Yes, actually. And, you know, probably the story that had the most impact on me in my life is not a war story. It was covering famine with Christiane and I even tear up when I tell this story. You know, we were in a feeding camp and we had seen this particular woman get weaker and weaker. And we watched this woman take her last breaths, and you know, we didn't know what to do. We couldn't change it. We couldn't fix it. We just had to deliver the story to the world because no one should be, you know, lying on a mat in the dirt dying for a lack of food.

And, you know, we watched this woman die and I didn't know her name. And for the rest of my life, I always ask people's names.

KEILAR: I could see how that is something that would certainly stand out to you. Certainly. Heather, what do you hope people take away from this?

O'NEILL: Well, I mean, the fact that, you know, these were trailblazing camerawomen. I mean, they really -- the thing that struck me the most and I think I really wanted to convey in this film is that literally you can do anything you want, you know, never take no for an answer.

As Cynde always shares you know, talk yourself into something not out of it. And I mean, the whole goal of this was really to reveal that, that it was women behind the camera. You know, again, people know these stories, but I really wanted people to know that it was this, you know, wonderful sisterhood of dedicated journalists just, you know, doing it year in and year out.


And it's been a, you know, amazing tribute to them, really.

KEILAR: It's -- It really is. Look, Christiane, everyone knows who Christiane Amanpour is, but it must be very cool to see something like this. And know that the person that you always see on the other side of the camera is now getting some attention because the work is so important.

AMANPOUR: Or the 100 percent. I mean, we all knew it at the time. And we all highly respect, you know, the people who are taking the pictures. Remember, there was a famous saying it might have been Robert Capa, if the pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough. These women got close enough to make the pictures good enough to make the pictures really tell the story.

And it was because of their pictures that I was able to write the words and to deliver the words around the stories. I write to picture and sound. And it was what they deliver that enabled me to be able to do that.

And I would say, honestly, there was a golden time. And in the 90s, when they were all massively active, CNN was huge. And everybody's consciousness before there was all the competition. And we told these stories all over the world and made a huge impact.

And remember, you know, even American politicians would say CNN is the 16th member of the Security Council. There was the CNN factor. And that's because of the pictures and the stories and the images that we were able to tell as a team and in this case, as a team of phenomenal trailblazing women.

And remember, you know, the bullets don't discriminate Margaret Moth, who was my camerawoman in Bosnia, the first camerawoman, the first camera person I worked with in Bosnia in '92. She was targeted and sniped and, you know, her whole lower jaw was blown off. And she just came back and kept working.

And Cynde and the others they've all faced their dangers, they face their horrors, that story in Somalia was just too horrible to even contemplate. And Cynde was doing a live shot with me and I didn't even know what to do. And we -- as she said, we didn't know how to maybe even move the camera off and give this woman had dignity. She was just incredible. But we were in that together. And we told that story.

And Mary who did one of the most incredible reports on female genital mutilation in Egypt way back in the mid-90s. I mean, created a storm of interest and protest against that, that terrible practice just by her pictures and the sensitivity with which she did that story. So I cannot say enough about these women and how pleased I am they're all getting the just kudos now.

KEILAR: Yes, I certainly am. And I can't wait for our viewers to get a look at this. And I thank you guys for this conversation this morning about this. Christiane Amanpour, Heather O'Neill, and Cynde Strand --

STRAND: Thank you.

KEILAR: -- thank you. And "No Ordinary Life, The Camera Women Who Brought the Front Lines to the Headlines" premieres tonight at 10:00 Eastern only on CNN. We're back in a moment.



BERMAN: For your New Day, the British Conservative Party naming Liz Truss as the next prime minister succeeding Boris Johnson.

KEILAR: Law enforcement confirming to CNN the CFO of retail chain Bed Bath and Beyond. As died after jumping from the 18th floor balcony of his Manhattan high rise apartment.

BERMAN: Rescue efforts underway in southwestern China after a 6.6 magnitude earthquake at least 21 people are dead.

KEILAR: And a Black Lives Matter executive accused of siphoning more than $10 million in charitable contributions alleges that Shalomyah Bowers redirected donation money to his own consulting firm which he denies.

BERMAN: More than 80 million Americans are under flood watch across 20 states. The heaviest rainfall likely to be in the Northeast.

KEILAR: Those are five things to know for your New Day, our coverage continues next.