Return to Transcripts main page

New Day

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) Discusses New Polling Showing Economy And Inflation Top Concerns Of Voters; Study Finds Hair Straightening Products Linked To Higher Cancer Risk; Kevin Spacey Testifies In Own Defense, Says His Dad Was Neo-Nazi. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired October 18, 2022 - 07:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Abortion taking center stage at last night's debates and that could be good news for Democrats who see it as a galvanizing issue for voters. With three weeks to go, President Biden will keep the focus on abortion rights when he speaks at a DNC event today.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is live at the White House. So, Jeremy, what do we expect to hear from the president?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, I can tell you in speaking with the president's advisers, it's clear that they see this abortion rights as a winner. They see it -- first of all, they believe that the public is on their side as it relates to the policy. And they also believe it's a galvanizing issue for their base as well as for key demographics that will decide the fate of Congress in these midterm elections.

And so, with three weeks to go, President Biden is doing everything he can to keep this issue front and center. A DNC official telling us that the president, in remarks at a DNC event in Washington, D.C. tonight -- he's going to be drawing that contrast between Republican extreme policies on -- as it relates to criminal penalties for doctors, for example, in banning abortion practices. And also talking about what Democrats want to do, which is to codify Roe v. Wade if they get a majority in Congress.

Of course, this also plays into the president's broader argument that he believes Republican candidates up for election this year are extreme. And so you're going to see that playing out as well.

KEILAR: They can't really ignore the economy here, though, right? Recent polling shows that it, and not abortion, is the most important issue to voters. So how can Biden drive home the abortion issues with that is top of mind for voters.

DIAMOND: Yes, and that is the struggle that this White House is facing right now. I mean, if you look at this poll from The New York Times and Siena, out yesterday, it shows the economy and inflation. Put those two issues together, that's 44 percent of voters believing that is the most important problem facing the country today.

You see abortion down there next to immigration at just five percent of voters singingly that out as their single most important issue.

And all of this, of course, is the change that we've seen over the last couple of months. Over the summer, we saw some momentum for Democrats following that decision to strike down Roe v. Wade. Gas prices were starting to come down. But now, gas prices are starting to come back up. Inflation has remained stubbornly high.

And so, you're seeing some of that momentum that Democrats were seeing over the summer begin to wane. And again, that's why the president, today, once again trying to do what he can to bring the focus back to those issues where Democrats believe they have the home plate advantage -- Brianna.


KEILAR: All right, we'll be watching.

Jeremy, thank you so much -- John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I want to bring in Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia. He leads the Senate Intelligence Committee.

And Sen. Warner, let me pick up just where they finished their discussion right there because if you look a this New York Times-Siena poll -- if you combine economy and inflation, 44 percent of Americans say that's the number-one problem facing the country today. And then abortion is down at five percent.

Why that vast distinction, and are Democrats focusing on the right thing then?

SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA): Well, I think there was huge shock across the country when the Supreme Court overturned Roe. Has some of that energy dissipated? I'm not sure.

I believe there are still a lot of young voters who can't believe they're going to now live in an America that -- I think about my three daughters -- late 20s, early 30s. They're living in an America where they have less rights than what my wife and I had when we were their same age. So I think this is still an issue that will particularly move young voters.

But the economy and inflation -- it's real. We've seen gas prices go back. We've seen supply chain issues. And a lot of the things that we have passed in almost a historic way -- the ability to negotiate drug prices, the ability to bring clean energy to the table, the whole infrastructure bill. The ability to kind of return the semiconductor jobs to this country. They're going to -- they're all great policy but they are taking a while to roll in where people actually feel it.

I do think it's important the president was reported today -- or the White House was reporting releasing some potential additional oil from the national stockpile. That might give some short-term response. Clearly, Saudi Arabia, I think, has kind of stuck it to America with their recent announcement with Russia. But I'm not going to underestimate the pain people are feeling from inflation.

BERMAN: The pain people are feeling from inflation. What kind of headwinds are Democrats facing running into these midterms?

WARNER: I think, again, we've seen a pushback and I think we all agree the Fed waiting too long. I do think it's interesting when the Fed does start to take action and they're trying to land this plane in a way that's pretty darn choppy, bringing up inflation -- or bringing up interest rates -- it translates into lower stock prices. That means people also feel less secure at home.

So this is a delicate balance. We spent a lot of years with record-low interest rates, so navigating this over the next couple of months is going to be a challenge.

BERMAN: I'm going to ask you to put your Senate Intelligence chair hat on now. We're seeing these strikes from Russia with Iranian drones in cities across Russia. We're seeing the targeting of energy infrastructure.

How long do you think Russia can do this? What's their long-term capability? And the flip side of that is what are you hearing or how do you feel the Ukrainians will withstand this heading into the cold winter?

WARNER: Well, I think the drone attacks -- if anything, they actually further unify the Ukrainian people. And we shouldn't be surprised. You've got an authoritarian regime from Putin. You've got the Iranians who are literally killing young women on a regular basis as people in that country rise up against the mullahs.

And I do think Russia is running through its armament stocks. When Russia has to buy military equipment from North Korea and Iran that's telling in itself. And what you've seen coming out of Russia while Putin has called up 300,000 conscripts. That same announcement has driven about 250,000 military-age Russian males to leave the country.


WARNER: I don't know how much longer Putin can maintain this level of focus.

BERMAN: What's your biggest concern -- and I don't want you to reveal any classified information -- not that you would -- but what's your biggest concern for Ukraine?

WARNER: The challenge is will the Europeans stay strong with a cold winter? And one of the reasons why I think the Biden administration got a lot of critiques on certain things, but I think their ability to keep Europe unified with us and getting the military aid to the Ukrainians can lead every Ukrainian success. And I hope they take Kherson in the south before kind of the winter fully sets in.

But where the actual off-ramp is, I wish I could tell you there was a secret plan but we're playing this out as it goes along. How you get -- how we can make sure that Putin cannot be successful because that would send -- have huge ramifications beyond Ukraine. But where he takes the off-ramp is something I think we're still trying to all work through.

BERMAN: Secretary of State Antony Blinken is looking at what's happening in China right now with Xi Jinping looking like he's going to solidify yet another term -- an unprecedented term there. And the Secretary of State says that he thinks China has accelerated its plans to try to take back Taiwan.

What does he see? What do you think is happening there?

WARNER: Well, we've got these two authoritarian leaders. Putin, who has made it his life goal to kind of rebuild the old Soviet empire, taking on Ukraine. Xi, clearly in the last stage of his career where he wants to reunify Taiwan.


I think a lot of leaders in the Chinese economy on the economic side probably are not where Xi is at. But Xi is an autocratic leader. He's going to be reaffirmed to the party congress.

And I think the issue with China, in particular, is the technology competition. That is the issue of our time. We've stepped up on semiconductors recently. We've stepped up on 5G and wireless. I know my committee is looking at things like advanced energy, synthetic biology.

We've never faced an economic competitor like China that really trying to dominate certain technology domains. We, in this country, with our friends around the world, need to step up and meet that.

BERMAN: Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, it's great to have you here in studio. Thanks so much for joining us.

WARNER: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: Come see us again.

WARNER: Thanks.

BERMAN: A new study this morning finds a link between chemical hair straighteners and uterine cancer. The concerning data ahead.

And radioactive material 22 times the expected amount discovered at a Missouri elementary school. So where did it come from?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We should be thinking about fundraisers and bake sales. But instead, we're worrying about bomb waste.




KEILAR: There is new research suggesting that certain hair straightening products, like chemical relaxers, could be connected to an increased risk of uterine cancer. And the study finds that Black women may be more affected here.

CNN health reporter Jacqueline Howard is joining us now on this. Jacqueline, tell us about this. I know so many people are going to be listening.

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: Absolutely, Brianna. And as a Black woman, this really hits close to home for me.

But when you look at this study, we've known for some time now -- researchers have known that there is this connection between hair straightening chemicals and certain hormone-sensitive cancers, like breast cancer and ovarian cancer. And this new study now adds uterine cancer to the list.

And the researchers found a two-fold increased risk among women who reported frequent use of hair straightening products.

If you look at the data here, the researchers found that the estimated risk for women who never reported using straighteners in the past 12 months was 1.6 percent. But that percentage rose to an estimated risk of four percent among women who did report frequent use. And frequent use is defined as using hair straightening chemical products more than four times in the prior year.

So that's where that concern is.

Of course, Brianna, these numbers are small. The overall risk, one percent compared with four percent, is small. But that difference is what's concerning -- Brianna.

KEILAR: And, of course, explain why this affects -- or the effects may be greater for Black women.

HOWARD: Right. So the answer to that -- it comes down to frequent use. Again, it turns out that these products do tend to be used more by Black women.

And there's also another question here. I mentioned earlier how this hits close to home. And growing up, many teenage girls, including myself, used some of these hair straightening chemical products on their hair frequently. And I asked one of the study authors could previous use in adolescence or childhood have long-term implications, even if you discontinue use later in life, like many women have -- like myself has. And the answer to that, we still need more data.

These are products frequently used by Black women and marketed towards Black women. But yet, we still have many questions left to answer -- Brianna.

KEILAR: But what about hair dye, bleach, perms to add curl to hair? Are those different?

HOWARD: They are. It was really interesting. In this study, the researchers wrote that they did not find an association with body waves, perms, dyes. Use of other hair products were not associated with incident uterine cancer risk.

So it really comes down to these, again, hair straightening chemicals and what association there is with those particular products.

KEILAR: Yes. Look, this is so important.


KEILAR: So much more research needs to be done here, Jacqueline. Thank you for this report.

Actor Kevin Spacey taking the stand in the sexual misconduct trial against him. Why he told the court his father was a neo-Nazi.

BERMAN: A missing persons case taking a deadly turn. The details surrounding the disappearance and apparent murders of four Oklahoma men.


CHIEF JOE PRENTICE, OKMULGEE POLICE: The river appears to be a dump site. This investigation is now a murder investigation.




KEILAR: This morning, what began as a missing persons case is now a murder investigation in Oklahoma. Police are investigating the deaths of four men whose dismembered bodies were pulled from a river. They were reported missing last week after leaving for a bike ride. Each of them suffered gunshot wounds.

It's unclear what led to their deaths but police say they believe the men were planning to commit a crime.


PRENTICE: That belief is based on the information supplied by a witness who reports they were invited to go with the men to quote- unquote "hit a lick big enough for all of them." We do not know what they planned or where they planned to do it.


KEILAR: Police say they do have a person of interest in the case but no charges have been filed, However, they say that person is now missing and could be suicidal. BERMAN: Former "HOUSE OF CARDS" star Kevin Spacey testified in his own defense in a New York courtroom. The actor denied sexual misconduct allegations made against him. Spacey also told the court that his father was a white supremacist and neo-Nazi, which Spacey says is why he did not come out as gay sooner.

With me now is CNN correspondent Jean Casarez. So what's the context here? What was Spacey doing with that?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's very interesting. It just popped out. I mean, it just came out during the testimony.

But Kevin Spacey was testifying that he actually read the allegations against him in the article in 2017 on the day it came out. He was horrified, he was shocked, he was confused.

His P.R. people said we've got to do something. You've got to do something fast because the Me Too movement is out there, Weinstein is out there with all of the allegations, other women -- people are coming out. And they said but you've got to be gentle because this is an alleged victim right here.

And so they crafted something for him to say that I don't remember this but if it happened, I sincerely apologize, and I am gay. I have not come out but I want to come out now. I'm gay. And there was absolute backlash for putting those together.

He testified yesterday. He said, quote, "I was accused of trying to change the subject or trying to deflect or that I was conflating an allegation with being gay, which was never my intention. And I would have never done anything to hurt the gay community and I was so upset that that was what happened. I understood it in retrospect."


So then he had to explain why he came out and waited all these years. He said his father was a white supremacist, he was a neo-Nazi. His father used to make fun of him as a child, continually, that he was gay. It made him very, very closed off and he didn't want to talk about it, but he felt that was the moment and had wanted to do it anyway.

BERMAN: That's about him, not so much about the allegations specifically made against him. What did he say about that?

CASAREZ: Well, it's interesting because this is the headline now, right? This is what everybody is talking about.

And Anthony Rapp is the accuser here. And the testimony was that in 1986 when Anthony Rapp was 14, he and Kevin Spacey were both appearing in different Broadway plays. He had met him. He went to Kevin Spacey's apartment and Kevin Spacey picked him up, groped him on his buttocks, put him on the bed, and laid on top of him.

Well, Kevin Spacey said in his testimony that he remembered meeting him but that nothing happened like that. Listen to what he said. He said, quote, "It didn't make a big impression. He was a kid who was in a play and that's what I remember. I knew what wasn't true was that I would have had any sexual interest in Anthony Rapp or any child that I knew."

And so, he defused it almost immediately from the beginning.

BERMAN: All right, Jean. I know you're watching this closely. Thank you very much.

CASAREZ: Thank you.

KEILAR: Selma Blair will no longer compete on this season of "DANCING WITH THE STARS" because of health concerns. The actress made the announcement last night.

In 2018, she went public with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Blair has been competitive on the series over the past five weeks but she says her body has taken a hit.


SELMA BLAIR, ACTRESS: This competition showed me how much I love to be with people that are trying their hardest. How much I love to be around music even though I don't have musicality. How much I love to want to do something again.


KEILAR: Even funny in this moment here, Blair completing a final waltz stance to the song "What the World Needs Now Is Love."

BERMAN: And look, it was courageous that she did it at all. I mean, Selma Blair has been very public about what she's been going through over the years. And to do this and to put herself out there in front of the American people to try to do something so physically challenging when just the day-to-day physical is so challenging for her, it was -- and she's -- you know, she's a wonderful dancer. Look at this.

KEILAR: It's beautiful, this waltz. But yes, this is not for the faint of heart, this competition. I think we see what people go through to be able to do this on any given night where they're performing, and it's just too much. It's too much, as we heard from her. But she did leave us with some beautiful performances.

And NEW DAY continues right now.

BERMAN: Ass kissers, suck-ups, and bears, oh my. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar. Some contentious and sometimes personal rhetoric, minus the bears, going on back and forth at the Ohio Senate debate between Tim Ryan and J.D. Vance. The two men sparring over the economy and inflation, clashing over racist rhetoric and abortion. This race is more competitive than a lot of people expected in a state that Donald Trump carried twice.

In Utah, Independent Evan McMullen attacked incumbent Republican Sen. Mike Lee, accusing him of betraying America on January 6. The debate was also a chance for McMullen to confront Lee over text messages he sent to Mark Meadows in the lead-up to the attack on the Capitol. Lee denied any wrongdoing.

KEILAR: No bears in Georgia, though. In a rematch of fiery debates for the same job back in 2018, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp and Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams made their final appeals to voters last night. The stakes were arguably higher for Abrams who has trailed in the most recent polls.

With us now to discuss, CNN political director David Chalian. David, it's so great to talk to you because there has been just a bounty of debates to watch and moments to see.

And perhaps the testiest of all of them was this Ohio debate that we watched between J.D. Vance and Tim Ryan. I want to play just a moment from this. This has to do with replacement theory -- race, obviously, in this debate.


TIM RYAN, (D) OHIO SENATE CANDIDATE: This great replacement theory was the motivator for the shooting in Buffalo where that shooter had all these great replacement theory writings that J.D. Vance agrees with. Some sicko got this information that he's peddling with, again, those extremists that he runs around with -- Marjorie Taylor Greene, Ted Cruz -- all these guys -- they just want to stoke this racial violence. We're tired of it, J.D.

J.D. VANCE, (R) OHIO SENATE CANDIDATE: Here's exactly what happens when the media and people like Tim Ryan accuse me of engaging the great replacement theory. I'll tell you exactly --

RYAN: You were peddling it.

VANCE: I'll tell you exactly --

RYAN: You were peddling it.

VANCE: -- what happens, Tim. What happens is that.