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New Day Saturday

Satellite Images Refute Putin's Claim About Nuclear Plant; Fighting Around Ukraine Nuclear Plant Raises Concerns; Pentagon Announces New $775 Million Aid Package To Ukraine; Monkeypox Vaccine To Be Distributed At Charlottee Pride Events. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired August 20, 2022 - 07:00   ET



AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Very impressive after pulling a -- hamstring are pulling --


WALKER: Thanks, Coy.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Maybe on the springboard, I don't know about the Jordan. Coy Wire, thank you so much.

WIRE: All right.

SANCHEZ: The next hour of NEW DAY starts right now.

Buenos dias. Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. I'm Boris Sanchez.

WALKER: Good morning to you. I'm Amara Walker, there are growing concerns of a nuclear disaster in Ukraine as Russia stages attacks from a power plant only a few 100 feet from a nuclear reactor. The pressure coming from the international community to allow inspectors in.

SANCHEZ: Plus, the White House is rolling out a new strategy to combat monkey pox amid criticism. Their plan to vaccinate large groups in at- risk communities starting this weekend.

WALKER: Plus, combating the teacher shortage. How districts are rolling out the perks to attract teachers as more student head back to the classrooms?

SANCHEZ: And Democrats are feeling optimistic about their chances in the midterm elections after a string of wins. How Republicans plan to counter that and the potential for the former president to influence the races?

WALKER: Good morning, everyone. Happy Saturday and welcome to your NEW DAY. It is a good day, Saturday, August 20th. Good to be with you, Boris. SANCHEZ: Great to be with you, Amara. Always a pleasure. We begin with these concerns about a nuclear power plant on the front lines of Russia's war against Ukraine. Fighting around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant has intensified, so much so that now there are concerns about a possible nuclear disaster.

WALKER: CNN first reported new satellite images contradict Russians claims about the facility. They say, there is systemic shelling there but the images just don't show that. Vladimir Putin accuses Ukrainian military of conducting repeated military strikes at the plant. A Special Adviser to Ukraine's armed services chief says, Moscow can't be trusted.


DAN RICE, SPECIAL ADVISER TO UKRAINE'S COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF ARMED SERVICES: Russia always tells two truths and a lie. You can't believe anything they say. Ukraine is not firing out their own nuclear plant and within their country. Russia is and that's basically called a false flag attack. The worry is that instead of dropping a nuclear weapon, he would actually just hit the, just, just have a meltdown.


WALKER: The U.S. is closely watching the situation at the nuclear plant and a senior U.S. defense official says Russia has shown a complete disregard for the security of Ukraine's nuclear facilities. Let's get the latest now from Ukraine and CNN Senior International Correspondent, Sam Kiley, joining us live from Zaporizhzhia. Sam, we should mention that phone call that French President Macron had with Vladimir Putin, in which he reportedly agreed to allow the nuclear watchdog group, the IAEA, to visit the plant. Of course, the question is Will Russia follow through with that?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a repeat indeed of the Russian position that's been around for several weeks now that they welcomed the IAEA just under circumstances that in the past were unacceptable to the Ukrainians with such as having to get there through occupied territory, territory in Ukraine occupied by Russia that may or may not have been sorted out. But essentially, Vladimir Putin is playing nice on the basic principle that the IAEA might, at some future date, get access.

But this is a nuclear power station that's on a frontline position, that's being used as a frontline position by Russia. And therefore, even getting inspectors in there is fraught with difficulty not, not only in terms of the diplomacy, but also in terms of their own physical safety. So, I think we have to see it in that context. At the same time, there's extremely inflammatory language being used by the Ukrainian side, we just heard there by one of the advisors to the president, suggesting that they might try to, the Russians might try to substitute a nuclear weapon with blowing up a nuclear power station. That's very science fiction stuff.

And it's nothing, there's no indication that the Russians would be considering that. It will be, in the words of the U.N. Secretary General, the suicidal action because it's really an uncontrollable mess, that could as much affect Russian troops and Russian held areas in Ukraine, and indeed, the Russian country, the motherland proper, in the event of a nuclear catastrophe. It is in nobody's interests, to have one or to spark one. But of course, people don't always behave rationally in the circumstances, Amara.

SANCHEZ: And Sam, Ukraine accuses Russian forces of storing heavy weaponry inside the complex and using it as cover to launch attacks. Has there been any confirmation of that?


KILEY: Well, yes, we've been able to confirm that directly. We've seen with our own eyes, the results of rocket strikes, which are very clearly identifiably. You can trace back the trajectory of rockets on this, on the government held side of the Dnieper River, in villages close to the nuclear power station have been hit by rockets that have been fired from that location or in or near that location. Second, and a second level, we know that the Russians are in military occupation. They don't deny it.

Indeed, yesterday, they said that they were going to be increasing the level of their military in and around that location. They deny using it as a fire base, but that will be difficult thing to deny in the face of at least 13 dead in the city of Nikopol. Again, just across the river where last night there's been a reported, yet another round of rocket strikes. So, there's no real question that the Russians are using it as a fire base. There's very little to no evidence that Ukrainians are shooting back, but there is every concern that there could be a catastrophe in this nuclear power station.

SANCHEZ: Sam Kiley reporting from Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine. Thank you so much.

Meantime, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says that he is thankful for the latest aid package from the United States, he calls it another step toward defeating the aggressor.

WALKER: The U.S. is providing another $775 million in military aid to Ukraine. CNN Pentagon Correspondent Oren Liebermann has details on what this latest package includes.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PETAGON CORRESPONDENT: Boris and Amara, this is the 19th drawdown of weapons for Ukraine pulled from us inventories. It now means, according to the Defense Department, that the U.S. has committed more than $10 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden administration. And this has some new equipment, although part of it follows much of what we've seen in the past.

The U.S. providing, providing more ammunition for the high Mars system, that GPS guided artillery rocket system that a senior defense official says has proven devastatingly effective against Russian forces. Ukraine using it very well to hit logistics centers, command posts, as well as ammunition depots. They don't have all that much ammo, so it's important that the U.S. keeps providing it when it's needed. But the defense official says they have used what they have very effectively, and this has been one of the key weapons.

In terms of what else is going in? There are a number of smaller 105- millimeter howitzers that are going in, more anti-tank weapons such as javelins, and for the first time: tow missiles, which are a slightly longer-range anti-tank missile. There's also an emphasis here on a new capability and that is mine-clearing. A defense official says, Russia has heavily mined Southern and Eastern Ukraine, so we'll need that sort of equipment to be able to clear that area for civilian use or if they want to carry out their own operations there.

Then there are also a number of reconnaissance drones going in as well as Humvees night vision goggles and communication equipment. So, this is what the U.S. is providing now. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, saying he was very thankful for the latest equipment, given the numbers we're seeing here is a clear indication that the U.S. and Ukraine in the West, for that matter, don't see this as a fight that's ending anytime soon. Boris and Amara.

SANCHEZ: Oren, thank you so much. So, this week, the White House has been defending their response to the spread of monkey pox across the United States. The Biden administration declared monkey pox a public health emergency on August 4th, after facing criticism for not moving faster to address the crisis. Now, I spoke with White House Deputy Monkeypox Response Coordinator, Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, yesterday, who defended the response saying that health officials have reacted to the virus' trajectory.


DR. DEMETRE DASKALAKIS, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY MONKEYPOX RESPONSE COORDINATOR: We know what we've got in terms of this outbreak. It is acting differently than any monkeypox outbreak we've known before. It's clear the epidemiology, it is clear what strategies need to be implemented to be able to control the outbreak. And it's also clear which populations we need to focus on. So, I think really, it's more about the right time as opposed to there being a delay.


SANCHEZ: So, health officials are going to be administering monkeypox vaccines at different events that focus on individuals that are at risk, including Charlotte's Pride Festival this weekend.

WALKER: Yes, it's part of a new strategy to get ahead of the outbreak. It includes boosting vaccine supply with an additional 1.8 million vaccine doses, making anti-viral treatments more readily available and reaching out to at-risk communities. CNN's Jacqueline Howard has more.


JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): This weekend appears to be the start of the Biden administration's new monkeypox response strategy, and that includes ramping up vaccinations. So, some states are already participating in these efforts in North Carolina, a pilot program from the White House and CDC is underway to district monkeypox vaccines at Charlotte Pride events this weekend. And this comes at a time when the United States is home to about a third of the world's monkeypox cases. Let's take a look at the numbers.

So, there are more than 14,000 cases in the U.S. and more than 40,000 in the world. When you think about it, the U.S. makes up four percent of the world's population. But based on these numbers, about 35 percent of the world's monkey pox cases. And the hope among health officials is for the new U.S. response strategy to get the virus under control. Back to you.


SANCHEZ: Jacqueline Howard, thanks so much. Amid a surge of violent threats against law enforcement as a result of the FBI search at Mar- a-lago. The House Oversight Committee is asking social media companies to take immediate action, and letters to the heads of sites like Medha, Twitter and Gab, top Democrats on the panel ask the companies to identify and document online extremists and then report them to law enforcement.


WALKER: The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security recently issued a joint intelligence bulletin warning of violent threats against federal law enforcement after the search. And just last week, an armed man tried to breach an FBI field office in Cincinnati.

SANCHEZ: Let's bring in CNN Contributor Garrett Graff, to discuss these threats. He's also a Contributing Editor at Wired Magazine. Good morning, Garrett, grateful to have you. Help us understand what's driving these online threats. Who are these extremists? And where do you find them most often?

GARRETT GRAFF, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, so, I think it's important to say that the people who are driving this level of extremism right now are the leadership of the Republican Party. You know, this is the president, President Trump and other Senior GOP officials who are stoking this rhetoric stoking this extremism, in the same way that we saw leading up to and now have a much better understanding of the events leading up to January 6th, that the President Trump and his supporters are hoping that the threat of further violence from their supporters will chill the federal law enforcement investigations of President Trump's criminal behavior.

SANCHEZ: I wanted to ask you about something you wrote in the New York Times this week, you write: "Of all the weird and historically discordant moments and news stories of the Donald Trump era, few scenes stranger than watching the former president and his allies demonize the FBI as some sort of rogue, woke, democratic, deep state mob. Almost nothing in the history of the FBI, Garrett, would lead one to believe it's a woke institution, right?

GRAFF: Absolutely. The FBI is one of the most conservative institutions in the U.S. government conservative, even by the standards of law enforcement, so much so that no democratic president has even felt emboldened to appoint a Democrat to head to the bureau, to sort of make a finer point on that. Every single director of the FBI has been a Republican official going back to J. Edgar Hoover himself. And when I was researching that piece this week, I actually figured out that the FBI is the last of the top 12, or even 15, top federal law enforcement agencies that has never been led by a woman or person of color. So, every FBI director in its history has been a white Republican male.

SANCHEZ: So, Garrett, you've made the case that obviously the rhetoric is out of control, and clearly not based on fact. The question now is what can be done? So, this House panel sent these letters to social media companies? Ultimately, how effective can social media companies be in reporting these extremists when it's in their interest to spark engagement online? And some of these radical folks are the most active on social media?

GRAFF: Yes, I think it's important to think of the social media companies as effectively being the, the wildland forest firefighters in this. You know, their job in this is to extinguish and minimize the blazes, but they're not the underlying arsonists. And so, the House Oversight Committee, in that letter that you mentioned at the top is working to try to encourage the firefighters to fight the fires more aggressively. But politically and for our democracy, we need to keep our attention focused on the underlying arsonists here.

SANCHEZ: Notably, Vice President Mike Pence said at a political event this week that Republicans should hold the leadership at the Justice Department and elsewhere responsible Without going after rank-and-file agents, Mike Pompeo, the former Secretary of State made the same argument on Fox News recently. What do you make of that messaging on this issue? Is that enough?

GRAFF: I don't think it necessarily is. You know, one of the cases that we've actually seen this week was Twitter permanently suspending a Republican candidate for the Florida legislature who put out a tweet calling for a plan or proposing a plan by him that would allow Floridians to shoot federal agents on site. And you know, when he was permanently banned for threats of violence from Twitter, he came up with an excuse that it was all about a piece of legislation that he hoped someday to introduce, but to sort of force Floridians to authorize federal law enforcement activity in their own state. But that's not how the government works. And it's a case sort of like that old saying, you know, who are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?


SANCHEZ: Garrett Graff, we got to leave the conversation there. Always appreciate your perspective. Thanks.

GRAFF: Thanks for, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Of course.

WALKER: Still to come this morning, many school districts across the nation are starting the new year down teachers and it's forcing some districts to get creative. Next, we're going to talk to the Richmond School's superintendent on the incentives they're offering to get teachers in the classroom. Plus, a tropical storm warning in effect for parts of Texas and Mexico bringing much needed rain to the drought-stricken state. We're tracking it for you ahead.



WALKER: Thousands of students nationwide are already back in the classroom. But school districts in a number of states are still scrambling to fill teacher positions. In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis is allowing military veterans to teach without a bachelor's degree. Two rural districts in Texas are going down to a four-day school week to accommodate this shortage. And in Richmond, Virginia, officials say they plan to fill vacancies with substitutes until they can hire more teachers.

For more on this plan, joining me now is the Superintendent of Richmond Public Schools in Virginia, Jason Kamras. Superintendent Kamras, thank you so much for joining me this morning. Um, obviously it's very concerning. First off, when does school start for Richmond public schools and I understand you have 140 vacancies for teachers from preschool to high school. What are you doing to try to attract teachers to fill these jobs?

JASON KAMRAS, SUPERINTENDENT OF RICHMOND PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Good morning. Well, school starts on Monday, August 29th. We're very excited to welcome everybody back. We are now down to about 120 classroom teacher vacancies. And one of the things that we have done is offer some pretty robust incentives. So, anybody moving to Richmond, a teacher with experience will receive $10,000 to come here and to teach at Richmond public schools, new teachers moving to Richmond $8,000. And so, we are advertising all across the state, all across the eastern seaboard to bring qualified educators here to Richmond.

In the meantime, we are working hard to identify really strong, long- term substitutes. These are people who are close to getting their teaching credential, they may need just a couple more classes or just to take the Praxis exam. And we are filling up classrooms with them as well so that every classroom will have a qualified educator in front of them on day one.

WALKER: So, you use the word qualified at least two times, and I think that's the word that a lot of parents are listening to right now, right? Because obviously, desperate times call for desperate measures. And we've been hearing about some of these school districts and states, allowing teachers without bachelor's degrees or without teaching licenses. I think in Arizona, they're allowing college students to take teaching jobs. One Chicago charter school not requiring a college degree or teaching license. You guys are not, at least at the Richmond school level, not taking any shortcuts in terms of the quality of teachers, are they all required to have at least a bachelor's degree when you do hire them full time?

KAMRAS: That's correct. And I don't support some of those other measures. I don't think we can gamble with our kids' future. And while -- I think there are a lot of talented college graduates, talented veterans, and so on, I do believe we need to maintain a minimum expectation for the individuals we put in front of our children. I think that's absolutely critical.

WALKER: You know, Randi Weingarten, a few weeks ago, said in an interview that she's the president of the American Teachers Federation, that this is the worst teaching shortage she has ever seen. To find a lasting solution as opposed to a temporary fix, you know, we have to obviously understand the origins of the shortage. What are you hearing in terms of why teachers are leaving the profession, or why some people are hesitant to even get into it?

KAMRAS: I would agree this is the worst I have seen in about 25 years in education, and I think it's the accumulated stress, exhaustion, and feelings of disrespect that many teachers experienced over the last two, three years throughout the pandemic. And so, it's not just localities struggling to find folks the entire field has contracted over, over the last year or two. And so, I think really going forward, we're going to need much greater investment in teacher preparation and support once teachers come into the classroom that certainly pay but it's so much more than that. It's better professional training, better support for principals so they can cultivate teacher leadership in their buildings. I really believe we need a Marshall Plan of sorts coming out of the pandemic, to support the development of teachers and of course, our students.

WALKER: Yes, and I think a lot of parents would say, you know, this teaching, teacher shortage is concerning especially if unqualified teachers are coming in teaching students who, you know, have learned for a couple of years, virtually. And of course, the pandemic disrupted so much socially and educationally for them and they obviously need a lot of attention there. Superintendent Jason Kamras, appreciate you joining us this morning. Thanks and good luck to you.


KAMRAS: My pleasure, thank you.

SANCHEZ: Overnight flooding scrambling rescue crews to Zion National Park. We have a look at the flood threat across the Southwest when NEW DAY continues.


WALKER: Southern Texas and the western part of the Gulf of Mexico were under tropical storm warnings today bringing much needed rain to the drought-stricken state.

SANCHEZ: Now, nearly 10 million people are under flood watches in parts of the Southwest. Let's get straight to the CNN Weather Center and Meteorologist Allison Chinchar. Allison, what are you seeing?


ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We're seeing a lot of rain. And as Amara mentioned, that they need the rain. You just don't want too much in a short period of time. And we have not one, but two different systems that will be bringing rain across Texas. Here is a look, this is potential tropical Cyclone 4, currently sustained winds at about 35 miles per hour. But we have started to notice in the last couple of hours, a lot more of that convection. The thunderstorms really beginning to build. The question is, doesn't have enough time to strengthen before it's expected to make landfall, likely somewhere right around the Texas Mexico border in about the next 24 to 36 hours.

Now, if it does get named, the next name on the list is Danielle. Regardless of whether it gets named or not, though, it is still expected to bring a tremendous amount of moisture into Texas. And even some states to the east of it, including Arkansas and Louisiana.

But really look at all of that moisture here. But again, this is just one system. We also have a secondary system that will bring flooding across the state in the coming days. Right now that system is located across portions of Arizona and New Mexico. But in the coming days, it's going to shift to the east.

For today, we've got flood watches in effect for Arizona, New Mexico and portions of extreme western Texas. But that is likely to expand off to the east as the system itself begins to move eastward.

Here is a look at today. Again, notice a lot of that heavy rain, especially across the southern portion of Arizona, area is pretty much widespread across New Mexico. And then eventually by Sunday and Monday, you really start to see that, and rain pushing back into the panhandle of Texas and then across East Texas.

So, overall, really over the next three days, you're talking widespread yellows, oranges, and reds that you see here on the map, indicating three, four, even five inches of rain. But it's not out of the question for some of these areas to pick up six, seven, even as much as 10 inches of rain over the next several days from those two systems.

As we mentioned, yes, the state of Texas is in a drought. But again, when you get it in such high doses in short periods of time, it can lead to flash flooding. Guys?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And dangerous conditions that come with it. Allison Chinchar, thank you so much for that.

So, we are fewer than 80 days from the midterm elections. And Mitch McConnell is forecasting they're going to be extremely close. And just a few moments, we're going to take a look at the issues that could decide the party in control of Congress. Stay with us.



SANCHEZ: A series of wins for President Biden, improving economic indicators and massive fundraising numbers have Democrats feeling more optimistic as they head into the midterm elections. But they are coming head to head against historical trends. And a Republican party that's eager to capitalize on an energized base. We have two of our own CNN political commentators here now to duke it out. Karen Finney, former spokesperson for Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign, and Scott Jennings, shaking his head, he was the former special assistant to President George W. Bush.

Thank you both for sharing part of your weekend with us.

Karen, let's start with you. Some good news recently for Democrats that are campaigning this year. But they are running as President Biden's approval rating remains below 40 percent. How do they contend with that?

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, actually, we have seen a little bit of a bump in President Biden's numbers. And in the generic ballot, Democrats are running ahead.

You know, we have the opportunity to talk about the, you know, Inflation Reduction Act, lowering costs for the American people, you know, and a slew of other accomplishments, including infrastructure, which we've been trying to get down, and gun safety measures.

So, Democrats are able to run on those things. At the same time, we're seeing a better climate in that inflation seems to be cooling off. But Democrats aren't taking anything for granted. That's why you're seeing Cabinet members, you'll see President Biden and the vice president out across the country very aggressively in the coming weeks, talking about our accomplishments, but also talking about the American people made it happen. They turned down in record numbers. So, these are their victories too, and if they return Democrats to power, we'll keep it going.

SANCHEZ: Scott, I'm going to play some sound now from your former boss, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, this is something he said just this week. Listen.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I think that there is probably a greater likelihood, the House flips than the Senate. Senate races are just different, they are statewide, candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome.

Right now, we have a 50-50 Senate and a 50-50 country. But I think when all is said and done this fall, we're lucky to have an extremely close Senate, either our side up slightly or their side up slightly.


SANCHEZ: Candidate quality. Your party's hope of retaking the Senate relies on a lot of candidates that were handpicked by former President Trump, several of them appear to be struggling in recent polls. What are your thoughts on candidate quality?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, he is telling the truth about the nature of the political landscape. And candidate quality in Senate races matters because, as he said, you're running statewide.

And he's House districts, and I think it's far more likely Republicans win the House because the districts are basically tailored for one party or the other, whether you happen to be Democrat or Republican.

So, the nature of your candidacy matters a lot less than the overall trends in the country. But in the Senate races, you have to be the kind of candidate that can appeal to more than just a narrow band of primary voters. And what's also true about these candidates is several of them, Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania, J.D. Vance in Ohio Blake Masters in Arizona, they came out of very, very brutal primaries, where they had a lots of negative ads poured on their head.


Now, they won, but it took a toll on their image. So, to me, candidate quality means a lot of different things. There's still a long way to go. I think the environment still gives Republicans a good chance to win several of these races.

But I think if we're going to be honest about it, yes, we've got a few issues out there on the mat.

And by the way, last issue, these states are purple, you know. Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, all are very, very close states in the last couple of cycles. And so, it's not like they're heavily red states in which Republicans are running.

FINNEY: Well. But let's -- yes, I'm sorry, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Go ahead, Karen.

FINNEY: Well, I was just going to say, I mean, let's also remember, though, candidate quality, yes. And when Mitch McConnell and Republican leadership had an opportunity to move their party away from Trump, they didn't take it. They instead, let the party lean in, in the Republican primaries to Trumpism, conspiracy theories, grievance politics.

And so, now, in a general election contest, that often means for Democrats, while Republicans have to defend and talk about Donald Trump, because let's be honest, he's not going anywhere.

Democrats get to talk about the economy and reproductive freedom. And as we saw in Kansas, a red state, where the ballot measure failed in red counties, and red districts. This is a very important issue for the American people that I think is going to be critical in this election.

SANCHEZ: Notably, Scott, before I let you respond, I just want to point out it was the Democrat that brought up Donald Trump first. How much is he going to play a part in Republicans campaigning?


JENNINGS: Boris. SANCHEZ: It seems like many of them want to avoid saying his name at all.

JENNINGS: Yes, depends on your jurisdiction, of course. I mean, there'll be some places where he's more popular than others. And of course, there are going to be a lot of Democrats who don't want to have anything to do with Joe Biden and wouldn't want him anywhere near their district either.

I mean, the reality is that the leader, of both of these two parties right now are both pretty unpopular, and the American people would kind of wish they would both move on ahead of 2024.

If I might respond to Karen, though, on the merits of the argument for the general election. You can always tell people who don't have confidence in their policies, when they completely lie about what they're calling them.

The Inflation Reduction Act, that's the label they've put on this bill that they placed all their hopes and dreams.


FINNEY: Yes, Scott.

JENNINGS: And for the general election, not a single, nonpartisan, credible analysis of this bill says it's going to reduce inflation.

It is going to raise taxes, it is going to hire a bunch of IRS agents, and it is going to spend a bunch of money we don't have.

FINNEY: Yes, Scott. Let's not go --

JENNINGS: But they have called it -- they have called it the Inflation Reduction Act. And anybody who's been to the store lately knows that's a bunch of garbage. So, I'm just saying, Karen, if you're going to run on a bill, you ought to call it what it is, which is the Democrat -- you know, wish list.


FINNEY: Yes, to Scott --

JENNINGS: The act has nothing to do with inflation.

SANCHEZ: it was Build Back Better up until what? Like a couple of weeks ago? A few maybe month or so --

JENNINGS: Up until they change the title of it.


FINNEY: Well, but I think --

JENNINGS: So, Joe Manchin could lie to the people of West Virginia? That's what it was. FINNEY: No, no, no. Come on in.

SANCHEZ: Karen, go ahead. Karen, go ahead.

FINNEY: We're talking about serious deficit reduction, we're talking about lowering costs, on things like energy costs, we have actually seeing gas prices coming down. And the Inflation Reduction Act, we're also talking about lowering the cost for health care.

Republicans voted against lowering the cost of insulin. You know, talk about that, Scott. I mean, look, if we're going to fearmonger -- again, I -- Scott, I could come right back at you and say, you know, a party's worried when they have to do disinformation and fear mongering.

And the reason that we're going to see some changes at the IRS is still that big corporations will actually pay their fair share. And as you know, no one who makes under $400,000 a year is going to pay more in taxes.

So, let's just be honest. I understand why you don't want to have to talk about Donald Trump. And why you don't want to have to talk about reproductive freedom.

JENNINGS: Karen, Karen, are you -- I have a question. I have -- I have this serious question.


JENNINGS: Do you dispute -- do you dispute the Congressional Budget Office analysis, which says taxes are going up for people who make under $400,000, and it will have no meaningful impact on inflation? Do you dispute the Congressional Budget Office? Yes or no?

FINNEY: That's not quite what they said, quite frankly. And, again, I think if you look at the bill, and a number of analyses of the bill --



FINNEY: Tax is not going up for anybody who makes under $400,000-a- year. But more importantly, look, I think this election, could very well end up being more about Donald Trump, than it is about Joe Biden. And I think Republicans want to get away from that, just as Democrats want to keep talking about the things they have accomplished for this country.

And by the way, it's about keeping promises, again, not just the Inflation Reduction Act, let's talk about gun safety, let's talk about help for veterans, let's talk about infrastructure. All of those things are part of the conversation we're having with voters.

JENNINGS: And all -- in all bill -- in all -- in all ideas that Republicans supported and helped get across the finish line, these are not -- I agree, those were interesting ideas, and they passed. And everything you just said passed with some Republican support, especially in the Senate.

So, I think -- I think --


FINNEY: Great.

JENNINGS: You'll have Republicans out there talking about, hey, we can govern the country on ideas where we agree, but what we're not going to go along with is an extreme partisan ideology like what's in the Inflation Reduction Act.


FINNEY: Right. Or the extreme ideology of Trump.

SANCHEZ: Before we go -- before we go, you all make my job so easy. I just like throw a question out there, and you just go on by yourselves.

But quickly, I did want to get your thoughts on the race in Wisconsin, which Scott mentioned. Karen, the candidate there surprising some folks, Mandela Barnes leading --


SANCHEZ: -- sitting Republican Senator Ron Johnson by seven points. Quickly, what are the keys to that race? First, Karen, then, Scott.

FINNEY: The key to that race is going to be turnout. It's going to be about grassroots work, getting to the voters. For Mandela Barnes, getting his message out. I mean, his fundraising has been very strong.

Ron Johnson is a flawed candidate with a number of challenges, including supporting a total ban on abortion. So, again, it's about having a clear message and getting to voters.

SANCHEZ: And Scott?

FINNEY: And turnout.

JENNINGS: Yes, I think Ron Johnson, every six years, we say Ron Johnson is going to lose, and then he ends up winning. I think we're going to have strong rural turnout in Wisconsin.

Ron Johnson has proven himself to be an extremely resilient campaigner, and Joe Biden aren't any more popular in Wisconsin than he is anywhere else. And I think a referendum on the Biden presidency is where I'd be if I were Ron John.

SANCHEZ: Scott Jennings, Karen Finney, love that conversation. Thanks for being with us.

FINNEY: Thanks.

JENNINGS: Thanks, guys. AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): I want to have what they're having for breakfast. All right. Up next, America's roads becoming more dangerous with deadly crashes hitting a 20-year high. CNN is looking into why, next.



WALKER: There is a growing concern this morning for us drivers coast to coast. Federal officials say the number of Americans killed in traffic accidents in the first three months of this year hit a 20-year high.

SANCHEZ: Yes. But a third of those crashes were caused by impaired drivers. CNN's Pete Muntean has more.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The headlines are relentless and indiscriminate.

In Indiana, four dead including a member of Congress. In Los Angeles, five dead. In Illinois, eight dead including all six members of the Dobosz family. The losses tell the story of what safety advocates call a crisis on our roads.


STEVE CLIFF, ADMINISTRATOR, NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION: The overall numbers are still moving in the wrong direction.

MUNTEAN: New data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows 9,560 people were killed on U.S. roads in the first three months of this year. That's a seven percent jump over the same period last year and the highest for a first quarter in 20 years.

CLIFF: We'd hope these trends were limited to 2020. But sadly, they aren't. Risky behaviors skyrocketed and traffic fatalities spiked.

MUNTEAN: Virginia saw one of the biggest increases nationwide with traffic dead spiking more than 70 percent in the first quarter.

Last week, near Richmond, triathlete Jonah Holland was cycling along a county road when police say she was hit and killed by a suspected drunk driver.

Thursday, fellow cyclists held a benefit ride in her honor.

BARB JEWELL, OARD MEMBER, RICHMOND TRIATHLON CLUB: I'm just really sad that we have all of this because of a death.

AMY COHEN, CO-FOUNDER, FAMILIES FOR SAFE STREETS: These are not accidents. We have a preventable public health crisis.

MUNTEAN: Amy Cohen lost her 12-year-old son to a car crash. Now, as the co-founder of Families for Safe Streets, she says the goal is not just fewer deaths, but zero deaths on our roads.

Safety Advocates put the onus on automakers and governments, local, state, and federal to attack the issue from all angles.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, says redesigning roads to be safer is a top priority for the Biden administration. Using funds from the bipartisan infrastructure law.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION: It is as if we were living through a war. We cannot and must not accept that these fatalities are somehow an inevitable part of life in America.

MUNTEAN: The latest federal data says a third of motor vehicle deaths are caused by impaired drivers. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says alcohol detection systems that stop people from drinking and driving could save 9,000 lives each year. Just one way to help solve an epidemic on the roads that got worse with the pandemic.

COHEN: This is preventable. We just need our leaders to have the political will to put in place solutions to save lives.


MUNTEAN: What's interesting about this is that this is very much an American problem. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, says, in Canada, the traffic fatality rate is about half of ours here in the U.S. In Europe, it's about a quarter. Here is who is being hurt the worst according to Secretary Buttigieg, those in low income and rural communities, especially people of color. Boris and Amara?

SANCHEZ: Pete Muntean, thanks so much.

Still to come this morning. The Biden administration is rolling out part of its new monkeypox plan this weekend, offering vaccines at Charlotte Pride events. Some worry the messaging surrounding the virus, though is doing more harm than good. We're going to take a closer look just ahead.

WALKER: That first, in today's "THE HUMAN FACTOR" a woman who was given about two months to live is still climbing mountains four years later. From biking across the country to epic adventures with each of her five children. She's an athlete who won't let cancer define her.


ISABELLA DE LA HOUSSAYE, LUNG CANCER AWARENESS ADVOCATE: So, often, you just assume you can't do something. And I think when someone shows you that you can do it, it can inspire other people to try.

I was diagnosed with stage four non-small-cell lung cancer. When I was originally diagnosed, the cancer had eaten up my sacrum and my lower spine. So, walking was incredibly painful and difficult.

Once the cancer treatment started killing the cancer, I was able to start rebuilding bone, and part of that is walking. And so, my son and I actually walked the Camino from Lisbon to Santiago, Spain. [07:55:01]

I'm not doing anything fast, but I am still doing. And that is important to me. I went with four of the kids to do an ultra-race in Mongolia. And then, did the Korean Ironman with my second son. My daughter and I climbed the highest mountain in South America.

I have a non-smokers lung cancer, it's an issue that society is oblivious to. And that is what led to them bike riding across the country for non-smokers lung cancer. So, we rode from San Diego all the way to St. Augustine, Florida. And the goal was less about fundraising and more about spreading awareness.

I never ever wanted to find myself as a cancer patient. And I don't want my cancer to define me.