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Quest Means Business

Thousands Flee Northern Gaza; IDF: 130 Hamas Tunnels Destroyed; G7 Leaders Discuss Conflict During Tokyo Meeting; Ivanka Trump Takes The Stand; 2023 US Election Results; Third Republican Debate To Start Without Trump; Biden Campaign To Capitalize On Dems' Strong Results; Warner Bros. Discovery, Disney Quarterly Results; Giant Panda Trio Returns To China. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired November 08, 2023 - 15:00   ET



ZAIN ASHER, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Thousands of Palestinians, including women, children and the elderly are fleeing northern Gaza on foot as Israel

intensifies its military campaign. The IDF says it has destroyed 130 Hamas tunnels so far, including one near a school.

And after a bruising election night, some American Republicans want to change how their party handles issues like abortion. Coming to you live

from New York, it is Wednesday, November 8th. I am Zain Asher, in for my colleague Richard Quest, and this is Quest Means Business.

All right, good evening. Tonight, thousands of Palestinians are fleeing Israel's offensive in northern Gaza, traveling south on the road designated

by Israel as a safe corridor. One man said nothing, nothing was left of his home. Another teenager girl called it the Nakba, or catastrophe, of 2023.

Israel is saying that the evacuations are necessary as it fights in the heart of Gaza City. The military is saying that it's targeting Hamas

infrastructure and commanders and has destroyed 130 tunnel -- Hamas tunnel shafts.

In southern Gaza, humanitarian groups warn of supplies dwindling. The US says the Rafah Crossing was closed Wednesday because of what it called a

"security circumstance."

Nic Robertson is in Sderot right now. He joins us live now. So, Nic, just in terms of what we know, we know that the Israelis are pretty much inside

Gaza City right now. They're staying at -- they're tightening their stranglehold on Hamas. What more do we know about the fighting taking place

there right now?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. It seems to a degree that Hamas is staying in the tunnels and not engaging in firefights.

The IDF thinks that Hamas wants to draw them in, because Hamas will have booby trapped the tunnels, will find a fighting environment more

advantageous to Hamas and less advantageous to the IDF, because the IDF has way more sophisticated weaponry.

So in a way, the fight on the ground is not as face-to-face intense as perhaps the IDF feared it could be, and that perhaps, you know, gives us to

understand why the casualty toll for IDF troops, the death toll among IDF soldiers, is relatively low. That said, it's -- I believe it stands at

about 56 right now. It's not at all in significant.

But what the IDF says it's doing on the ground is using intelligence to know which houses to go into and search. They're not quite going house-to-

house, almost. And they say they've discovered 4,000 weapons systems so far, some of them in mosques and some of them in schools.

But it does feel at the moment as if the fight is not at a stalemate, but does feel where the mounting US pressure on Israel to have a humanitarian

pause is perhaps beginning to threaten whether or not the IDF can actually do what the prime minister wants them to do, which is to destroy Hamas



ROBERTSON (voice over): As crushing as Israel as air strikes targeting Hamas are militarily, they've also become politically counterproductive. A

crippling consequence, civilians, thousands of them, have been killed. Israel under US pressure for humanitarian pause.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL (through translator): On the diplomatic front, we are working around the clock to provide the IDF with

international maneuvering room for continued military activity.

ROBERTSON (voice over): Netanyahu's plan to destroy Hamas is under threat. Time may be running out.

RONEN BERGMAN, STAFF WRITER, NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE: They took locks. How long will it take the IDF to finish what they see as their target? And

second, how long are the international community, specifically the US, will tolerate the continuation of this ground offensive? Those are two -- those

two are not in sync.

RON BEN YISHAI, FORMER IDF MEMBER, MILITARY ANALYST: I am afraid that the United States will succeed in stopping us from completing the work.

ROBERTSON (voice over): Both Ben Yishai and Bergman are respected veteran Israeli journalists. Both have been taken by the IDF to the front line in



BERGMAN: None of the strategic goals of this operation has been achieved. Hamas are not going out of the tunnels.

ROBERTSON (voice over): According to the IDF, Hamas operatives killed, rockets captured, launch sites discovered, but according to Ben Yishai, at

a place that both Netanyahu and Biden can stomach.

YISHAI: They go very slowly because of two things. First of all, because of the Americans, to be honest. And secondly, because of the safety of the


ROBERTSON (voice over): Bergman says he's asked IDF officers if they can route Hamas from its tunnels.

BERGMAN: When you ask them, do you think that you can take out the whole of subterranean bunkers? They said, no, there's no way.

ROBERTSON (voice over): Meanwhile, Hamas' regular rocket salvos into Israel reinforce their bunker resilience is working.

YISHAI: This demand by the United States to make a humanitarian pause hits the deepest emotions of the Israelis.

BERGMAN: The prime minister and other speakers for the government and the military need to be by far more transparent and direct with the Israeli



ROBERTSON: So where we are one month in, Israel really appears sort of weakened by its own strength, Hamas empowered by its tunnels, able to

weaponize the very high civilian death toll. And to that end, they may actually, given the scenario right now, be able to use that to buy enough

time to fight again another day -- Zain.

ASHER: All right. Nic Robertson live for us in Sderot. Thank you.

The Israeli military said, Wednesday, that time-limited windows were in place for Palestinians to evacuate to southern Gaza. The latest evacuation

window comes as the IDF says that it is fighting against Hamas militants inside Gaza City. It continues to bombard the enclave with airstrikes as


CNN's Salma Abdelaziz reports and as thousands of Palestinians fleeing along the evacuation route.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Taking only what they can carry, families are fleeing Gaza City. They waved white flags

to surrender amid of anything that can find. And as the sounds of war echo around them, they signal yet again that they are innocence.

(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE speaking in foreign language.)

ABDELAZIZ (voice over): "I'm a cancer patient and I can't find treatment or food or water," this woman says. "We saw death with our own eyes last

night. The whole ground shook."

The Israeli military has been calling for weeks on all those living in the northern part of the strip to move southwards, most recently, opening what

it called "safe corridors" for limited windows of time.

(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE speaking in foreign language.)

ABDELAZIZ (voice over): "We're running down the streets with nothing. We're in danger at every moment. The bombs won't stop," she says.

The only way to reach the route is by foot or by cart, if you can catch it.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)

ABDELAZIZ (voice over): "We were forced to flee," this man says. "We have to use these donkey carts because there's no fuel. They cut everything off

to force us out of our homes."

Israeli troops are now in the heart of Gaza City as Israel's defense minister apparently declared the entire city, the enclave's largest

population center, a legitimate target.

YOAV GALLANT, ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): Gaza is the biggest terrorist stronghold that mankind has ever built. This whole city

is one big terror base. Underground, they have hundreds of kilometers of tunnels connected to hospitals and schools. We continue to dismantle this


ABDELAZIZ (voice over): But the UN calls this exodus "forceable displacement" and accuses Israel of the collective punishment of some two

million people. And these routes are dangerous and deadly.

This was the Salah al-Din street just a few weeks ago. CNN geolocated and authenticated these videos showing the aftermath of explosions that killed

evacuees. You can see luggage among the bodies.

And for those who do make it, bombardment and siege await them in the south, too. There is no true escape.

Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.


ASHER: And Israel was the main topic of discussion when top diplomats from the G7 met Wednesday in Tokyo. They agreed to support Israel's right to

defend itself from Hamas militants. They also called for pauses in the fighting. CNN's Marc Stewart reports on the group's meeting amid the war.

MARC STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At their meeting in Tokyo, the G7 foreign ministers released a joint statement calling for

humanitarian pauses in Gaza. They did not call for a ceasefire.



STEWART (voice over): This language is significant. By not calling for a ceasefire, it puts the foreign ministers at odds with its Arab


The G7 is comprised of the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, and Canada. The ministers support Israel's right to

defend itself in accord with international law, hoping such pauses will allow humanitarian aid to reach civilians and will lead to freedom for

Israeli hostages held by Hamas.

We're hearing directly from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken who outlined his view of the future.

ANTONY BLINKEN, US SECRETARY OF STATE: When it comes to post-conflict governance in Gaza, a few things are clear and necessary. One, Gaza cannot

be continued to be run by Hamas. That simply invites a repetition of October 7th. And Gaza uses a place from which to launch terrorist attacks.

It's also clear that Israel cannot occupy Gaza. Now, the reality is that there may be a need for some transition period at the end of the conflict.

But it is imperative that the Palestinian people be central to governance in Gaza and in the West Bank as well, and that again, we don't see a



STEWART: On another topic, the ministers expressed their ongoing support for Ukraine as it still fights for independence, condemning Russian


Marc Stewart, CNN, Beijing.

ASHER: All right. Still to come here on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, Ivanka Trump taking the witness stand in a civil fraud trial against her father and his

business. We'll look at what she had to say earlier.

And after Democrats chalk up key victories in Tuesday's US elections, we'll look at the issue that's bringing many voters over to their side. That

story next.


ASHER: All right. With the future of the family business on the line, Ivanka Trump is on the witness stand this hour. She's testifying in New

York as part of the civil fraud case against her father, of course, the former president. Prosecutors have been asking her about bank loans that

she helped secure for multiple Trump properties.

Ivanka is not a defendant in the case, and she said that she is not really even part of the Trump organization since back in 2017. But New York

Attorney General Letitia James begs to differ.


For more, I'm joined now by former US Deputy Assistant Attorney General Harry Litman. Thank you so much for being with us.

Ivanka is really key here, because she helps set up the company's relationship with certain financial institutions. Just give us your take in

terms of what she said on the witness stand today and what really stood out to you.

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER US DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes, that's exactly right. She fills an important piece of the puzzle.

On the witness stand today, she hasn't done much. She's had a lot of instances of not recalling, not being able to speak to documents. She's

been polite and professional, but certainly, there's been no dramatic moment of betraying her father.

But, as you were just saying, she is the person who makes the bridge to that -- the special group at Deutsche Bank that is -- that gives Donald

Trump the financing he needs at lower rates. And it's clear from the emails that she knows that. She says, "You're the best, Rosemary," to the person

who secures it.

And to get these lower rates, Donald Trump had to attest to his personal wealth, his net worth. Those turn out to be lies. So she sets up lies by

her father, which will be integral to the charges of knowing misstatements that are at issue in the fraud trial.

ASHER: So overall, though, as you pointed out, there was no dramatic moment where she betrayed her dad .

LITMAN: Right.

ASHER: . but she did try to distance herself from the Trump organization. She pointed out, "Listen, I haven't worked there really since 2017. It's

been about six years." And also, she talked about the fact that she wasn't necessarily involved in the submission of Trump's sort of personal

statements or personal financial statements. How key is that aspect of it?

LITMAN: I mean, that vary. It's true. In 2017, she goes into government, and after government, she and Jared leave. But that part before, even

though it's many years ago, she forges a relationship that he then has to renew year in and year out, and he lies. At least the AG is going to try to

prove he lies, and then continues to re-up on that lie year in, year out.

So she doesn't figure integrally in the fraud overall, and she's out of things. That's why she's not a defendant in the case.

Nevertheless, she sets up a really important piece of the overall case against Donald Trump. There is really no way around that for her. She had

to acknowledge it. And that's her importance in the case. Discreet, but important for what she has to say.

ASHER: How does the importance of her testimony compared to other people who have taken the witness stand within the Trump family, including, by the

way, his two sons, obviously, her brothers, and the man himself, former President Donald Trump?

LITMAN: Right. Well, look, they're all defendants. And the little blunders they made, and they each made them and several by Trump himself, hurt them

personally. They're going to figure into what I expect will be a blistering verdict against them.

She's just a witness, but she has an integral bridge from we need cheaper rates to a lie that Donald Trump gets to tell to get those cheaper rates.

So in that sense, she really fills in a particular piece. Less important overall, but really critical for the case against her father.

ASHER: So just in terms of her sort of wriggling out of this, I mean, what is her main line of defense? Obviously, some of the headlines are that,

look, she's really honing in on the fact that I have not worked for the Trump organization since 2017. That's not enough, though. I mean, what else

did she say to sort of defend herself and distance herself .


ASHER: . from the Trump org?

LITMAN: You know, that actually is enough because you have the same thing there. There's statute of limitations that say the things she did, and she

was charged in the complaint with, you know, a couple paragraphs worth of misdeeds happened before, and so, she's out of the case. It was too late to

bring them against her.

On the other hand, what she did do inaugurated a relationship that then continued and still stays critical as to her father and -- but -- and the

lies he allegedly told on the financial misstatement. So her reason for being out is solid under the law. It was a while ago, but that doesn't make

her evidence irrelevant as to what .

ASHER: Right.

LITMAN: . Trump did not just back then, but continuing.

ASHER: Right, yes. Attorney General Letitia James continued to argue that, listen, she's still inextricably tied to the organization, even though .

LITMAN: And he .

ASHER: . she hasn't worked there since 2017.

LITMAN: Right.

ASHER: Harry Litman, live for us there. Thank you so much.

LITMAN: Thanks for having me.

ASHER: Of course. Democrats are celebrating some major victories from Tuesday's local elections across the United States. In Ohio, voters decided

to enshrine abortion rights into the state constitution after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade just last year.


In Kentucky, Democratic Governor Andy Beshear secured a second term after making abortion rights a clear issue in his campaign. And in Virginia,

Democrats took full control of the state legislature, a major blow to the state's Republican governor.

Steven Collinson joins us live now from Washington. So, Stephen, does abortion alone really sort of explain the results that we saw yesterday? I

mean, part of it was, yes, abortion, but also there was a massive sort of rebuke of the sort of MAGA Republican.

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: Right. And I think there are also, particularly with that race in Kentucky, quite a lot of local

factors. So it's -- you're right, we shouldn't really extrapolate everything from these results.

But it is clear that the generational victory that Republicans won in overturning the constitutional right to an abortion of the Supreme Court is

causing them huge political problems. It is playing against them in the very moderate suburban districts that they will need to win the 2024

General Election.

So, it is a significant factor, and it does offer a great opening, I think, for President Joe Biden next year, but there are a lot of factors playing

into this election that go beyond abortion. So it's important, but I don't think it's definitive.

ASHER: Also interesting, because when people try to draw conclusions about what's going to happen next year based on the results that we saw

yesterday, the one sort of important factor is that Donald Trump was not on the ballot here. Yes, obviously, MAGA Republicans do not seem to come out

in droves when Donald Trump is not on the ballot. But when he is on the ballot, that ends up changing everything.

COLLINSON: Yes. And Trump is able to reach voters who don't really vote at any other occasion, especially voters like, you know, blue-collar male

voters who are notoriously reticent to show up. So it's going to be a very different electorate next year.

One thing, I think, we have to take into account is that President Joe Biden, a year from the election, is exceedingly unpopular. He's losing to

Trump, assuming he is the Republican nominee in all the swing states, but one that will decide the election.

So Biden wasn't on the ballot either yesterday. So while Democrats are taking the results that they got and seeking to create some momentum for

the president, you know, voters didn't have the choice before them.

What they will do next year is they will evaluate President Joe Biden on his own record. Many of them -- a majority of them, according to a new CNN

poll, don't believe he's up to the job. He has the capacity at the age of 81, as he will be in a few weeks' time, to serve a second term as


And they're going to have to evaluate that against what they see with Donald Trump, who has not really been onstage for the last three years.

People haven't seen the volatility, and the anger, and the extremism that he brings to the table.

So the White House is basically arguing that once that comparison is clear, voters will again choose President Joe Biden, but he is very unpopular. And

as you know, all of these swing states, last time, were decided by tens of thousands of votes. There's no reason to think that this is not going to be

a very close election, or that Trump doesn't have a very good chance of winning.

ASHER: It's interesting you point out what the White House is saying, look, you know, give us some time, when people really see and they remember. I

think people have very short-term memory. So when they remember what Donald Trump is actually like, they're going to come to their senses and choose

Joe Biden.

I mean, what is the reality, though? I mean, is a year enough time for Biden to change the perception around him, this perception that he's too


By the way, the economy is doing very well on paper, but the perception is that people just simply aren't feeling it. How does President Biden change

the perception around his presidency in the next 12 months?

COLLINSON: I don't think it's possible for him to change the perception about his age and capacity because that's clearly, obviously, something he

can't do much about. Americans aren't getting an impression of a vigorous president.

What he has to do is try to make the election about something other than himself. Make it a referendum on Trump, which is quite difficult for an

incumbent to do.

You're right, the economy is doing very well. A lot of people aren't feeling it because of high interest rates. If there's any downturn in the

economy next year, that's going to be a huge problem for Biden.

So he did it in the midterm elections. He made the election about Trump and extremism, but if this isn't an election about an angry nation complaining

about its lot, I think Trump is a far better vessel for those complaints. He's a candidate of grievance, if you like.


So I think a lot of it is going to come down to which side can define what the election is about. And that's probably the key to the result.

ASHER: Not an easy thing to do. Stephen Collinson in live for us there. Thank you so much.


ASHER: All right. Just ahead, the UN secretary general calls out Israel's military operation in Gaza, why he is saying that something is clearly

wrong here.


ASHER: Hello everyone, I'm Zain Asher. There's more Quest Means Business in a moment. When US election mastermind David Axelrod will explain why

Democrats' strong performance in last night's elections may not translate into success in next year's presidential race. And why China appears to be

closing the book on decades of panda diplomacy. Before that, though, these are the headlines at this hour.

Ukraine's bid to become a member of the European Union took a significant step forward, Wednesday. The EU's executive body is recommending officials

begin formal membership talks next year once Kyiv meets further conditions. Any final decision to allow Ukraine into the EU would still take years.

And we are two months out from the Iowa presidential caucuses, and the Republican field is bidding. Tonight, five hopefuls will square off in

Miami in the third Republican debate. Former President Donald Trump has decided to again skip the event. Instead, he's going to be about 10 miles

down the road speaking at a rally.


In Sudan, we're seeing reports of a new surge of killings in West Darfur. Aid agencies operating in Chad say that arrivals from Sudan described the

deadly violence as they were fleeing the country. Fighting between the Sudanese armed forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces first broke

out back in April.

And in Massachusetts, the U.S. this Department of Justice has announced three arrests in a high-end brothel network. The acting U.S. attorney says

the operation had clientele that included elected officials, military officers and government contractors with security clearances.

Also, a new weight loss drug is expected to be on the market by year's end. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Eli Lilly's drug for

type 2 diabetes under the new name, Zepbound, now specifically for weight loss. It's part of a new class of drugs that have surged in popularity

over the past three years to fight obesity.


ASHER: Returning now to the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza, those words from United Nations secretary general today. He told Reuters

that something is clearly wrong with Israel's Gaza operation.


ANTONIO GUTERRES, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL: The highest number of killing of children by any of the actors in all of the conflicts that we

witness, is the maximum in the hundreds.

We have, in the few days in Gaza, thousands and thousands of children killed, which means that there is also something clearly wrong in the way

that the military operations are being done.


ASHER: Israeli Defense Forces say that it has destroyed 130 Hamas tunnels in Gaza, including one near a U.N. school. Fighting is now in the heart of

Gaza City, sending thousands of people fleeing south.


ASHER (voice-over): Take a look at this video, you can actually see the scene. This is from one of the two main highways in the enclave, which is

serving as a temporary evacuation corridor opened by Israel on Wednesday.


ASHER: Jeremy Diamond is live for us in Sderot in Israel.

Jeremy, I want to start with the fighting happening in Gaza. We know the IDF says they now have destroyed completely 130 tunnels.

How much is that crippling Hamas' operations there?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. The tunnel complex below Gaza remains a major military target for Israel's forces.

They know that those tunnels present a tremendous challenge and a tremendous danger to their forces, particularly as they move deeper and

deeper into the Gaza Strip and into Gaza City in particular.

So now the IDF is announcing that they've destroyed 130 of those tunnels since the beginning of this conflict. At the same time, they say that, over

the last month, they have targeted over 14,000 targets in just the last month.

And they are making it very clear that they are pressing forward with this ground offensive. The Israeli prime minister has vowed that there will be

no cease-fire unless and until any hostages are released.

And what we're also witnessing is Israeli forces moving deeper into Gaza City. Today, Israel's defense minister saying that his forces are in the

heart of Gaza City.

But at the same time, we're watching the humanitarian situation in Gaza continuing to deteriorate. We've watched as medical supplies are running

out at hospitals. Hospitals are running out of fuel as well, to continue to be able to operate.

And today, we saw the G7 foreign ministers all calling for a humanitarian pause, particularly as we saw the news that a humanitarian aid convoy,

according to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, was hit by an Israeli airstrike. The Israeli military has yet to comment on that incident.

ASHER: All right. Jeremy Diamond live for us there. Thank you so much.

Still to come on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, one year out from the U.S. presidential election, a new CNN poll points to major challenges ahead for

President Biden. We will continue after the break.





ASHER: Democrats are celebrating some major victories from Tuesday's local elections across the country. Despite their poor showing, some Republicans

say they remain optimistic about next year's national elections.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I don't really think that the kinds of election results that we saw last night translate terribly well into President

Biden's reelection effort. I think abortion is going to be a big issue in states' ballot initiatives and so forth. But at the national level, I think

it's going to be about the economy.

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): We have to have a compelling message that appeals to suburban voters, no question about that. It's economy, jobs, cost of


SEN. STEVE DAINES (R-MT): Big difference between state races and federal races.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What kind of issues, like abortion and the suburbs?

DAINES: No, I mean take a look at what happened last night, it was -- it was -- these are state issues that they were battling. It'll be a very

different set of issues in '24.


ASHER: The Biden campaign is certainly hoping Democratic momentum will translate for his reelection effort. But there are warning signs for the

president in a brand-new CNN poll, that shows former president Donald Trump leading Mr. Biden at 49 percent over 45 in a hypothetical rematch.

The same poll also finds that three-quarters of voters are concerned about the president's age and stamina. CNN senior political commentator David

Axelrod joins us live now.

The facts are clear here, David. When you think about how people view the president, it's not necessarily favorable.

What does that mean for next year and what is the solution at this point for Democrats?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think that if the presidential elections were a referendum, this would be even more

concerning. They're not. They're choices.

And I think what's incumbent on the president now is to be very vigorous about throwing this race into a comparative frame, because, yes, that poll

had a lot of bad news for the president.

But there wasn't particularly great news for Donald Trump. He's not very popular, either. And he has a lot of vulnerabilities. And the Republican

Party has a lot of vulnerabilities, which were exposed yesterday.

And I think despite the brave faces that you saw in the video, of senators explaining yesterday's results, i do think we've seen a several-year trend

here of the issue of abortion in general, extremism on the Republican side being a weight on their candidates.

And I don't think that's going to stop next year. But Biden has to throw his race into the context of that contrast. And that is something that they

haven't done aggressively yet. They need to do it.

ASHER: So you mean they should reframe how viewers view the election in terms of, I guess, highlighting all the issues with president Trump?


ASHER: I assume the Democrats have actually done that quite a bit. It's not working.

What specifically do Democrats need to do?

AXELROD: Look, I think there's a difference between what Democrats do sort of episodically and sporadically and what the president's message is. The

president has thus far talked about his accomplishments. And I think he is not getting the due that he deserves for some of these accomplishments.

But that is the reality of the situation we're in. The country is in a sour mood. I think this is partly post pandemic and a lot of it has to do with

inflation. He needs to create a frame in which everything is kind of in the context of him versus Trump, him versus Trump.

The president is fond of the saying, don't compare me to the Almighty; compare me to the alternative. He needs to start making those comparisons.

ASHER: And just in terms of the perception here, obviously I touched on the fact that the president's age continues to be a perennial problem, even

though Trump is only a few years younger than him. That continues to be a problem for the president.

When you look at some of the things that should be working in the president's favor, be it the state of the economy, for example, it isn't

translating to voters.

So just explain to us on that front, is there any way for the president to play up some of his wins even more than he's already doing?

AXELROD: Well, first of all, on the issue of the economy, the reason it doesn't registering is, yes, unemployment is at an almost record low.

There's been tremendous growth over the years that he has been in the White House.

But in the lived experience of Americans, inflation looms large. So they're judging the economy through what they see on the cash register, what they

see at the gas station, what they pay for rent, what they pay for mortgage interests.

And that is a less cheerful picture. But he has engaged in battles that have political currency over issues like the cost of pharmaceutical drugs

and so on. And these are issues on which Donald Trump and the Republicans have been on the other side.

On fundamental issues of democracy, obviously, Donald Trump has been on the other side. You know, every time the president -- every week, there's

fodder for the president and his surrogates to kind of cast this contrast.

Just in the last week, there was a story about president Trump's elaborate plans for retribution for his political enemies if he gets elected. That is

fodder because I don't think most Americans want to elect a president whose fundamental role or mission is retribution.

But they're not going to know that unless they're told that and the contrast is struck. So I think they have -- that is the assignment that the

Biden campaign has now. Referendum, he could lose. Compare it and contrast, he has a much better chance to win.

ASHER: Big picture, obviously the Republican presidential debate is tonight. The last two debates have not changed the fundamentals. I don't

necessarily know if there's anything that some of the candidates left on stage today can do to ensure that Donald Trump isn't the next nominee.

But how closely should we all be paying attention to these debates, given that the end result is more or less likely decided already?

AXELROD: Yes, this has the feel of a silver medal round for sure. But the theory of the case has always been that if some one candidate emerged, then

the anti-Trump vote would coalesce around them.

The problem for those candidates right now is that Donald Trump is sitting at 60 percent of the vote. So even if it all coalesced, it wouldn't

necessarily help. But what you'll see tonight are the two candidates that seem to be competing for that role, Nikki Haley, the former U.N.

ambassador, and Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida.

I expect there's going to be some vigorous, vigorous back and forth between the two of them, because time is wasting. And they're desperately hoping to

break through in one of the first two contests.

ASHER: All right, David Axelrod, thank you so much.


ASHER: As the actors in the union strike continues across the U.S., that forces Hollywood studios to delay a release of major films like "Dune: Part

Two" and "Snow White."

The media giants are reporting their latest quarterly earning. Warner Bros. Discovery, the parent company of this network, posted a bigger than

expected loss despite the big success of "Barbie." Disney is set to report its results after the bell. Oliver Darcy joins us live now.

When you think about what some of the media companies are reporting just in terms of earnings, how much leverage do you think actors have right now in

terms of negotiations when it comes to the strike?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN BUSINESS SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Actors have a lot of leverage. The studios need them to make a deal very soon.


DARCY: Like they should've made a deal yesterday to get production back up and running if they want to bring back those television shows for January.

You know, traditionally, there's two halves of a television season, one that debuts in the fall, the other debuts in the winter. If they want those

shows for the second half, to come back in January, they need to start production now. So they need a deal.

On the other hand, the actors also, the union needs to deliver a deal for its members. They've been on strike for a long time. There's been

considerable pressure from their membership to also get a deal. Both sides need a deal.

I do think, we are really at the one yard line in terms of crossing the finish line or getting in the end zone to get a deal done. The studios made

their best and final offer on Saturday.

The union for the actors came back on Monday and said, hey, we have these concerns about AI. The studio said, OK, they took care of those concerns.

Now they're just waiting to hear back. Hopefully, they can hammer something out pretty quickly.

ASHER: And Disney reporting after the bell.

How much pressure at this point is Bob Iger under, to turn the company's fortunes around here?

DARCY: Bob Iger has so much stuff on his plate right now. It's difficult to list. He has to talk about how he's going to convert ESPN to a direct to

consumer product, which is apparently his top priority, according to one of his advisers.

He has to talk about what he wants to do with ABC, he suggested that he's open to perhaps off-loading that asset.

He has a lot of content problems. A lot of the latest Marvel movies, for instance, have not been grossing as much as they'd like to see at the box

office. And the new one, the Marvel that's coming out this weekend, is opening or looks to open to a much softer opening than they probably would

like to see.

He has to talk about subscribers; they just raised prices on Disney+.

So did they lose subscribers because of that price hike?

He also has problems with the strike that he has to address when he talks to investors. So I think Bob Iger will hopefully -- was hoping the strike

would be resolved by the time he goes on the earnings call, so he would have some good news to deliver to investors.

Unfortunately, as of this moment, that is not the case. So he's going to have a lot on his plate, a lot of questions to answer when he does address

investors after the bell when they report those. Earnings

ASHER: Oliver Darcy, live for, us thank you.

DARCY: Thank you.

ASHER: The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., said goodbye to its giant pandas. We'll talk about the end of more than 50 years of the long program

and also the so-called panda diplomacy behind it.





ASHER: 2023 is on track to be the warmest year ever recorded. That's according to new data from the E.U.'s climate change service, Copernicus.

Last month was the warmest October to date. It was the hottest or rather latest, in a string of hottest ever months.

Every month since June has actually set a brand new record. The heat has sparked an increase in natural disasters and unusual weather events as

well. Our Richard Quest spoke to the minister of tourism for Greece. He asked how wildfires earlier this year impacted the country amid wider



OLGA KEFALOGIANNI, GREEK TOURISM MINISTER: It's important to stress that, despite the challenges, despite the discrepancies, we will have yet another

record year. This will mean that we're not just back to pre-pandemic; we're also better than pre-pandemic.

Of course, all these challenges which show we have to have faith, not just Greece but other countries as well, show us that we need to do more when it

comes to the climate crisis, that it's very real.

And it's not just enough to participate in international fora. We actually really need to do something on the ground. We managed to really deal with

the crisis in Rhodes quite excessively, in terms of evacuating 20,000 people without anybody being affected. Everybody was securely and safely

transferred to very safe places.

Still, it was a challenge for Rhodes. And I'm very happy that Rhodes was back, 10 days after this event of the fire.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: How difficult is it, with the current migration issues, bearing in mind so much of it affects those exact areas where the

islands and the sort of the tourist destinations. Balancing it is becoming more important. The fear is it's going to get worse.

KEFALOGIANNI: This is a European Union problem. It's not just for Greece and Italy and any other country which is the first point of entry. So I

think it's important that, right now, from a European level, it's starting to become, I think, a notion that they can realize will affect everyone.

QUEST: You are right in the heart of all crises.

KEFALOGIANNI: Yes, but, you know, we are a country blessed with the most perfect landscape, with the best islands. We're going to talk about

balance. I think the most important balance that we need to find is between tourism and social cohesion, local communities, local economies.

They need the tourism revenue. But at the same time, we need to make sure that these destinations are sustainable in the future.

QUEST: And that becomes even more challenging when you think of what Greece has been through. We go back to the financial crisis, you've got employee

(INAUDIBLE) and the difficulties.

So just to get back where you were is a real achievement. Now you've got to finesse it into sustainability.


QUEST: Which perhaps got pushed to one side.

KEFALOGIANNI: Yes, I don't think it was supposed to be pushed to one side. I'm saying this because 10 years ago, I was a minister of tourism during

the financial crisis and during the economic crisis.

And we made sure that we had the legislation in place for tourism investment. So all the investments made these past 10 years are really very

environmentally friendly. They take into consideration the landscape and the authenticity of Greece.

Now it's another challenge, making sure that the people in Greece are actually the ones receiving and welcoming the visitors; at the same time,

really enjoying their own country.


ASHER: All right, the Sicilian (ph) Zoo's three giant pandas have left Washington and are headed back to China. It marks the end of 50 years of

pandas at the National Zoo. And it's uncertain when or if they'll come.

It's part of what's often called panda diplomacy. That's where China loans out its pandas around the world as a way to establish goodwill.

Historically, Western zoos have been able to renew those loan agreements.

But recently, China has been taking its pandas back instead. All of this comes as relations between the U.S. and China have reached a low point in

recent years. David Culver joins us live now from Los Angeles.

So David, is this the end of panda diplomacy?

Give us your take.

DAVID CULVER, CNN SENIOR U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That is certainly what zoo staff at the National Zoo in Washington are hoping is not the

case. They hope this will continue. Look, for animal lovers, sure, this is a sad day.


CULVER: But this might even be more tragic when you look at U.S.-China relations. At its height, there were 15 pandas in the U.S. But in the last

decade, those numbers have plummeted. It's coincided with, as you pointed out, worsening U.S.-China relations.

This is all part of panda diplomacy. You mentioned it. That started in 1972 with President Nixon's historic visit to China. Giant pandas have become

these beloved global ambassadors for China.

Initially, they were gifted to countries; now, they're loaned. And they are not cheap. They cost zoos anywhere from $0.5 million to $1 million a year

for a pair. China acknowledges these cuddly creatures are used for, in China's words, major political and diplomatic needs.

So if you look at where these pandas are going -- and this is really interesting, because we were able to track this and look at the countries

that are essentially getting these pandas. It gives you a sense of this new world order that China is hoping to craft.

So they're going to some countries in the E.U., like Denmark, Finland and Germany and the Middle East, Qatar and China's northern neighbor. Not at

all that surprising. Talk about Russia, getting pandas in recent years as well.

It's worth noting, these are regions where China is looking to bolster its relations, increase its influence. Folks would say, perhaps when President

Biden meets with president Xi, which is expected to happen here in California next week, maybe he will bring this up.

There's a lot of other issues, of course, Zain, that we know are going on between the U.S. and China. Really, with China in general in the South

China Sea and surrounding Taiwan, questions over China's ties with Russia, allegations of human rights abuses, IP theft, a really long list.

So why would you bring pandas up?

Well, it's something that's obviously very important to the American people. It's not all that unusual for a country's leader to bring this up.

In fact, this week, Zain, Australia's prime minister was in China for a state visit and talked about the country's desire to keep Australia's

pandas. So it shows you just how important this is for an entire population.

And I should mention the three pandas departing the National Zoo right now, that leaves only four pandas in the U.S. And the contracts for those, which

happen to be at the Atlanta Zoo, expire next year.

So there is no word on any extension. If they are not extended and China does not give any more pandas out to the U.S. or to any Latin American

countries, that would make the only panda in all of the Americas found in one place. That's Mexico City. So certainly preparing for a surge of

visitors from the north, should that be the case.

ASHER: It's interesting, as you point out, these pandas have been here for decades in the U.S. in Washington, D.C., a symbol of America's relationship

with China. All of that coming to a close because of the diplomatic low point between the two nations. David Culver, live for us there, thank you

so much, appreciate it.

There are just moments left to trade on Wall Street, we'll have the final numbers and the closing bell, right after this.




ASHER: All right, just seconds left to trade on Wall Street. The Dow is just slightly lower now. It opened in the green but gave up its gains early

on. Pretty much flat right now. That is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, I'm Zain Asher. The closing bell, as you can hear, there is ringing on Wall Street.

"THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" starts right now.