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Two Young Sisters Among Victims In Mall Shooting: "Rays Of Sunshine"; GOP's Hurd: "Not Closing The Door" On Running For President In 2024; Tennis Star, 21, Takes Break Due To Mental Health & Burnout. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 08, 2023 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: In light of our lead story, tonight, we end the hour, with a bittersweet moment, over the weekend. Take a look, as Taylor Swift gives her hat, to a grateful fan, in Nashville, while performing her song, "22."


COOPER: Fan's name is Eleanor Dieckhaus. Her little sister, Evelyn, was killed in the Covenant school shooting, in Nashville, back in March, along with two other second graders, and three adults.

Hats off for the show of kindness!

The news continues. "CNN PRIMETIME" with Dana Bash starts now.


Good evening, I'm Dana Bash.

Today, two sisters were supposed to be in school, learning, in their second and fourth grade classrooms.

But instead, an 11-year-old Daniela, and 8-year-old Sofia, are being remembered, with makeshift tombstones. They were murdered, this weekend, at a shopping mall, in another mass shooting. Their mother is said to be in critical condition.

Their school principal described the girls, as "Rays of sunshine," imploring parents, who still have their children, quote, "Hug your kids, and tell them you love them."

Also, today, a 6-year-old boy, left the ICU, and found out he is the only surviving member, of his family. He was simply shopping, with his parents. And now, he's an orphan. According to a GoFundMe page, he lost his mom, his dad, and his little brother, who was just 3-years- old.

An Army veteran, who administered first aid, at the scene, described the horror he saw.


STEVEN SPAINHOUER, MALL SHOOTING WITNESS: The first girl I went to, and this is pretty graphic, but she was in the bushes, in a fetal position, like she was praying. And I didn't feel a pulse. I pulled her head back, to see if she's OK, and there was nothing left of her face or head, it was gone.


BASH: These children are three of the eight people, killed, over the weekend, in Allen, Texas at an outlet mall.

One year ago, this month, 19 students, in the same state, did go to school, but never came home, in Uvalde.

In the first five months, of this year, there have been 204 mass shootings, in the U.S. That's more shootings than days, at malls, schools, parks, grocery stores. None of these tragedies have significantly moved the gun debate, in America. Both sides are usually talking past each other.

But tonight, let's talk to one another. Joining me is CNN Contributor, Jennifer Mascia, founding staffer, at Trace, which focuses exclusively on gun violence; Stephen Gutowski, as Gun Safety Instructor, and Firearms Reporter, for; CNN Senior Crime and Justice Correspondent, Shimon Prokupecz; and Chris Vanghele, former Police Chief, in Newtown, Connecticut, one of the first, to respond, to the 2012 massacre, at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

And so, we're going to have a conversation, right now, about all of this, and starting with both of you, because you are on opposite sides, of the gun issue. But I'm sure you can each agree that what we saw, this mass shooting, all of the mass shootings are unacceptable.

STEPHEN GUTOWSKI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, GUN SAFETY INSTRUCTOR, FIREARMS REPORTER FOR THERELOAD.COM: Yes, absolutely. I mean, I don't think there's anyone, out there, in the country, who doesn't think that mass shootings are horrific acts of evil that we need to figure out ways to reduce.

JENNIFER MASCIA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, SENIOR NEWS WRITER, THE TRACE: I think the frustration really comes, when lawmakers say the same thing, over and over again, "Thoughts and prayers," but don't really offer any solid solutions. I think a lot of Americans are starting to see through that, so.

BASH: So, you, when I said you sit on opposite sides, of the issue?

You are an advocate, for more gun control.

You are a very staunch supporter of the Second Amendment. I think that's fair to say.

How do we get to the point, where you can have very different points of view, on guns, and how many guns, should be, on the streets, who should own guns, who should have guns, and get to the point, where there's some kind of consensus, so that what we're seeing does not occur over and over again?

GUTOWSKI: Well, I think, there is broad consensus on the base level of the kind of person, who should be able to have guns. There's, we have laws that restrict gun ownership, legal gun ownership, at least, to people, who haven't been convicted of felonies, or involuntarily committed, adjudicated to be a threat to themselves, or others, as mentally ill.

The bigger question comes to how you prevent people from accessing guns, who shouldn't have them. And I think that is a much more difficult question. And, of course, there's also the question of broad-based bans, on certain kinds of guns, for everyone, where you get even harder disagreements, I think.

MASCIA: Yes, I think we all agree, like, a lot of America agrees that gun laws should be tighter.


On a one-to-one basis, people, who are for gun rights, and people, who are for gun reform, I've experienced, in my life, when you have a conversation, and you break it down, outside of the political noise? There's a lot of common ground to be had.

I think that both sides are really dug in. I think that there's a lot of perceived block, to progress, happening, in a certain political party. And I think that that's very frustrating. But one-to-one, Americans agree on a lot more than we disagree.

BASH: Well, you're one-to-one here.


GUTOWSKI: Yes. I mean, I think, there is a lot more agreement than disagreement, in terms of the kind of people, who should have guns, and perhaps stricter enforcement of current laws, is another area, there's a lot of agreement, mental health facilities, or mental health assets, for people, struggling, people going through a mental crisis that could go down this path of a mass shooting.

I think another area of broad agreement? You saw legislation, last year, to that end, I don't know that it is been structured well enough, to focus on the issue. Usually, you're just sort of throwing money, at general mental health causes, which is, which can have an impact, but isn't necessarily specifically designed, to prevent mass shootings, in particular.

BASH: I want to talk about one pretty provocative notion, out there, which is the question of what people actually see, when these shootings happen.

CNN, and other news organizations, are very careful, about showing images that are out there, particularly when it comes to children. And that is something that is going to stay probably, almost definitely.

But there's social media that exists. And, over the weekend, you saw a lot of images that were out there that were really very, very graphic.

And it's got us thinking, here, about the idea of going back to Emmett Till, and Emmett Till's mother, intentionally wanting the photograph, of her son, very different time, very different issue. But the notion, of using an image, to try to change policy, and what happened there began to change policy. It was a very long road, but it began to change it.


BASH: You both have, unfortunately, had access to very graphic, horrible images.

Particularly, starting with you, you were one of the first people, on the scene, in Sandy Hook.

CHRIS VANGHELE, PLAINVILLE, CT POLICE, FORMER NEWTOWN POLICE OFFICER, RESPONDED TO SANDY HOOK SHOOTING: Yes. So, the images that I have are from eyewitness accounts. It's me, going into that building, that school, that day, and seeing all the people that were murdered by the shooter.

And one of the things I can say is, after the fact, I don't want anybody to see what I saw. I think the only thing that can be gained, from really seeing that is that they are now going to be subject to that vicarious trauma. Nobody needs to see what we saw that day. If they don't believe that it happened, if they don't believe, what we saw, then that's going to be their issue.

But I think people already have their minds made up, in terms of which side, they're going to fall on. And to get to Jennifer's point there? Most Americans did agree.

After Sandy Hook happened, President Obama made it a priority, to have gun legislation. I really thought something was going to have a major shift. I mean, at no point, in American history, that I think there was a greater chance, for something, to pass, when you have parents, going, before the Senate, and speaking their heart, about their -- the children that they lost, and there was broad-based American support for it. But unfortunately, it didn't pass.

But that doesn't mean it can't pass, some of these laws. In Connecticut, of course, we have very strong laws that passed, after Sandy Hook.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: So, I kind of have a different view, of this, than you, Chief. And I do think it's important, for people, to see some of these images, as long as you do it in a very careful and thoughtful way.

I mean, this is something that I'm grappling with, right now, dealing with Uvalde, and sort of the aftermath, and having seen all the body camera footage that these officers were wearing, seeing the kids, in the classroom, the amount of blood that went through the hallway, in the classroom, the horrific injuries, seeing kids with -- basically unrecognizable, because of the injuries. And I'll leave it at that.

There is a way, to do this, where it's not trauma, where it's not going to inflict any kind of damage, let's say, psychological damage. But there comes a time, where it's important, for people, to see what's going on, because time and time again, this keeps happening. And there's really no way to describe it, how horrific this is, and certainly how horrific the injuries were.


I will tell you something that during the Uvalde reporting, when we came across the 911 calls that the little girls made, from inside the classroom, when I listened to those calls? I said to myself, "I will never play these calls. They're just too traumatic. They're too horrific."

But as time went on, I felt it was important. And what changed my mind were with the parents. The parents came to me and said, "No, you should play that. We need the world to hear and to see what my little girl went through, inside this classroom."

So, there are, like the Emmett Till moment. There are parents, who are willing to do this, because they feel that they can make a difference.

VANGHELE: And again, I mean, after Sandy Hook, there was a lot of media, and other people, who wanted to see those photos. And the parents stepped forward, the parents of the victims, specifically of one of the teachers that was killed, and said, "These are images of our loved ones in their last hours."

And obviously, there's also a distinction between, who is a juvenile, and who's not.

BASH: Exactly.

VANGHELE: So, when we talk about FOIA (ph) rules, in terms of releasing, you're not going to release anything that's of a juvenile. And Connecticut passed a law that exempts pictures of homicide victims, from being released, without consent of the family. So, if there are families, that would think that that image would change anybody's mind, in terms of the gun debate, then I think that's an individual decision.

PROKUPECZ: That's right.

MASCIA: I think family consent is key. I've actually spoken with parents, who have lost kids, to gun violence, not in mass shootings, but in everyday gun violence.

I actually met a woman, several years ago, who would go, to gun reform rallies, and hold up a photo, of her daughter's autopsy. And I just I had to speak with her. And she said, "People have to see this."

This is something that trauma surgeons have been talking about, for years. "People need to see what goes on in my ER, and then their mind would change about what there is to be done."

BASH: Because why are we talking about this? We're talking about this, because, over the weekend, probably all of us, we have our phones, you see an alert. There's another mass shooting. And we look at it, we're horrified. And we say "Oh, of course there's another mass shooting."

And so, the question is, what -- when is it enough? How do you get to enough? What are the mechanisms of society that gets to the point where we say "Enough?"

GUTOWSKI: Well, I mean, I think, again, nobody wants to see these happen, and everyone wants to stop them. The difference is what people believe will actually accomplish that. And there are very stark differences on that. And, even the releasing photos, it should be up to the parents, I agree on that point.

But I wonder if the presupposition there is that the opposition to the policies, like AR-15 bans, or universal background checks, or some of these other policies that we're discussing, is based on sort of a misconception, about how bad, killing children is.

And I don't think that anyone has -- thinks that it's not a terrible thing. They just think that that's not a solution that's going to get to the end. I mean, obviously, there's -- that's the sort of the core disagreement.

BASH: The core -- what -- I mean, you're a law enforcement officer.


BASH: You saw the most horrific of mass shootings, in Sandy Hook. You've been in law enforcement, for 30 years. What is the answer?

VANGHELE: I will tell you. I mean, just bringing in the pictures, I used to go, and I used to speak, across the country, about my experiences, at Sandy Hook, to law enforcement conferences. And there, people had various political beliefs, in the audience. And some people were staunch gun advocates and gun owners. Some wanted to ban guns all together.

And one of the photos that I did show was right off the State Police's website, in Connecticut, which is the picture of the weapon that the shooter used, sitting right in the middle of the floor, on a first grade classroom.

And that's one of the images that always sticks with me, because it's such a discordant image. You're in a first grade classroom. The last thing that you should see is a weapon that's been used, lying on the floor, on the carpet.

And so, when I tell people, "Raise your hand, if you think this doesn't belong," everybody will raise their hand. The next question is how do we make that not happen again?

PROKUPECZ: I mean, that's the -- that's the thing.

VANGHELE: And that's where the debate starts.

PROKUPECZ: Like, what has to finally happen, right?

So, for the families, in Uvalde, they have small victory, today, for them, is that in this committee, in the Texas Legislature -- legislators, they voted, out of committee, to raise the age. Clearly, it's not going to go anywhere. No one thinks that this is going to get passed in Texas.

But it's a small victory. And perhaps maybe that's how something changes, these smaller victories. These families, it's so remarkable that they don't give up. They keep fighting, just like the Sandy Hook families. And now, you have the Uvalde families.


But there comes a point, where you sort of feel like, and just in talking to law enforcement, and families, something, at some point, has to give. The Texas shooter, I mean, there's so many reasons why he shouldn't have had a gun, right? But that's a private sale, and that is a whole other issue. But it's sort of it just becomes--

BASH: Yes.

PROKUPECZ: --so much, and it's something just has to give, at some point.

BASH: Well, listen, having these civilized conversations is a step. I hope. Maybe it's a baby step but it is a step.

Shimon Prokupecz, Chief Vanghele, and Jen Mascia, and Stephen Gutowski, thank you so much, all of you, for this conversation.

VANGHELE: Thank you.

BASH: And tonight, new video, of migrants, lining up, on the border as Title 42, a pandemic-era ban, on many asylum seekers, will be lifted, this week. And it's not just a southern border issue.

A big clash is brewing in the north, over an influx of migrants. One county is now declaring a state of emergency, to block New York City's Mayor, from busting asylum seekers, to their backyard.


TERESA KENNY, SUPERVISOR, ORANGETOWN, NY: We still can't get an answer when and who's coming, and if they've been, vetted, and if they have criminal records.

I implore the Mayor to rethink this.


BASH: That town's Supervisor is here, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BASH: Tonight, a New York county is under a state of emergency, in anticipation of hundreds of migrants, arriving, from New York City.

Mayor Eric Adams, announced, Friday that the city would send willing migrants, to neighboring communities, beginning with two hotels, in suburban New York. Up to 300 migrants could be moved there.


Mayor Adams says it's necessary, because they need a decompression strategy, with Title 42, expiring, on Thursday. That's a pandemic-era rule that allows the U.S., to swiftly return migrants, to Mexico.

City officials say they could see up to 1,000 new migrants, arriving, daily, in the coming weeks.

Rockland County, in New York, declared an emergency, to fight the Mayor's plan.


ED DAY, ROCKLAND COUNTY EXECUTIVE: We will make every effort to ensure that this plan does not go forward, in Rockland County.

The Mayor is engaged in human trafficking of the worst kind.


BASH: Joining me now is Teresa Kenny, the Supervisor for Orangetown, New York, in Rockland County.

Thank you so much, for joining me, this evening.

I want to ask, first, about what we just heard, from the County Executive, Ed Day, saying that the Mayor is human trafficking. That's a very loaded term. It's also a crime that involves coercion, and beyond.

Is that exactly what he meant? You do agree with that?

KENNY: Listen, I can't speak for the County Executive.

What I can say is that he has grave concerns that in a county, where we have approximately 70 homeless individuals, now, they're bringing up 340? And that's first start, may ultimately lead us overwhelmed. And basically, he's saying they're being dropped off, and basically left.

But I will not ever attempt to speak for Ed Day. He's very capable of speaking for himself.

BASH: Well, I should say Adams' office is very explicit, saying that they won't just be dropped off, that they will provide food and shelter, for the migrants. It will be paid for. And that, when you talk about the numbers? It's a quarter of 1 percent of the migrants, currently, in New York City. What's your response?

KENNY: OK. So, as the Supervisor, of the town of Orangetown, where the hotel is located, this is what I would say.

This so-called plan, which none of us really knows exactly what it is, was popped on us, on Friday afternoon. To this day, we can't be told, how many are coming, when they're coming, whether they've been vetted, all of questions, which the residents rightfully would like just to know about.

On top of it, the town of Orangetown does have a local law that defines what a hotel is, and its use. And housing individuals, for four months, is not consistent with our town code. So, I think had the Mayor sincerely wanted to work, with the counties, and make this a regional thing? I think, in fairness, to all of us, he should have reached out to us, well before Friday afternoon.

We were told they were -- that there would be asylum seekers coming over the weekend. Something changed. It may be because of the state of emergency that the County issued. In fact, the town did issue a notice of violation to the owner, that housing people, for four months, is not consistent. We have a hotel definition is transient for no more than 30 days.

So, there's just a lot of issues. And I don't think it's fair that we were, you know, it was thrust upon us, and left to try and figure it out, without having serious conversations.

BASH: Let me ask you more of a philosophical question. We've seen instances, globally, where communities have taken in refugees, and asylum seekers, in times of hardship, and sometimes in war.

Some would argue that these migrants face really difficult challenges, at home, and that they're just looking for a place, to land, while they're waiting to see if they can actually get asylum.

What's wrong with giving them some help, and some safe haven, in your town, especially if, as the Mayor says, they'll be paid for?

KENNY: Right. So, here's the thing. The Mayor has said they'd be paid for, for four months. What happens after four months? I'm told they can't get working papers, sometimes, for years.

This hotel is in a small hamlet, approximately three square feet miles, with approximately 4,600 residents. It's a suburban community. You're going to put 300 -- upwards of 300 men, there, and they're on a state highway? It's not fair to them either, to put them in this hotel, to be completely honest with you.

And again, I'm not disagreeing with you. My husband's an immigrant. My father was an immigrant. I -- that's not what this is about.

But why did the Mayor not reach out, and have a sincere conversation, with either Ed Day, who will ultimately be responsible, our Social Services department-- BASH: Yes.

KENNY: --if these individuals cannot find housing, and need help, assistance?

BASH: One final question. Do you believe that your county will sue? Will you take this to court? And if so, when?


KENNY: So, what I would say is they issued a state of emergency. If the hotel opts, to violate it, they would then have a civil remedy, against them, for violation, of the emergency order.

I can tell you this, the town of Orangetown, because if they were to do this, it would violate what our local town, allover (ph). We are considering bringing an action. Again, if it complies with our town code, there's nothing we can do. But as it's been presented, it does not comply with our town code.

BASH: Teresa Kenny, thank you so much, for joining me, this evening.

KENNY: Thanks, Dana. You have a good night.

BASH: And on this eve, of a crucial meeting, at the White House, a Senator, leading a coalition of Republicans, is laying down markers, on raising the debt ceiling, and keeping America from defaulting.


SEN. MIKE LEE (R-UT): We've told President Biden, "Look, we'll work with you. But it's not going to be free."


BASH: Will the President, and bipartisan congressional leaders, find any middle ground, tomorrow? We're going to talk about that next.


BASH: The Treasury Secretary is warning of economic catastrophe, as the nation speeds closer to default. And neither side is budging, ahead of crucial talks, at the White House, tomorrow.

President Biden has insisted on a clean bill, raising the debt limit, without conditions. But Republicans are calling for major spending cuts. Among them is Utah senator, Mike Lee. He is leading a group of 43 Republicans, in the Senate, vowing to oppose a debt ceiling increase, unless they see reforms.


LEE: We've told President Biden, "Look, we'll work with you. But it's not going to be free."

[21:30:00] The President needs to be reminded of the fact that he has one voice in this. It's an important voice. It's a powerful voice. But he can't pass something through Congress, unless he works with Congress.


BASH: Now, he, just like many other Republicans, maintains that default is not on the table. But the question is how do they get there, if no one is willing to compromise?

Let's talk about this, with CNN Business Correspondent, Rahel Solomon; Republican strategist, Jason Osborne; and Democratic strategist, Basil Smikle.

So, let's talk politics, first. You each understand the political realities that the Republicans are dealing with, that the Democrats are dealing with.

Let's start with the Republicans. They walk into this meeting, tomorrow. Particularly, for Kevin McCarthy, can he afford to give much? And then can he afford not to, when it comes to the economics of it?

JASON OSBORNE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I think he walks in there, with the big stick, right? I mean, he has the ability, because the House passed, by a very slim margin, a very comprehensive package. The Senate Republicans are sticking with him.

And so, as long as those Senate Republicans stay with him, then I think he's able, to go in there, and say, "Look, I have to go back to my Conference, with something. Now, I'm going to start with everything, and then give me something in that." And so, what that something is, in the end, I think is yet to be seen.

But there are four pretty good choices, I think, in there. I think it's the curtailing spending, which, quite frankly, the President doesn't really have much of an option there. I mean, that's congressional.

But if he can go back and say, "Look, I understand we have to pay the debts, from the past. But, in the future, we're hoping that we don't have to come back, and ask for as much, because we're still going to have this fight, again, in two years, three years, four years, and another 10 years after that."

So, I think, in the end, we probably delay, for two weeks, maybe three, and then come back, and everybody gets serious, and says, "All right, I'll give you this," and then he's able to go back and sell it to the Conference.

But I think he's also going to require that the White House lean on some of the Democrats, so that it's not as hard of a lift for him, to get those additional votes, to pass it out of the House.

BASIL SMIKLE, FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NY STATE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Yes, it's interesting, because I agree with you, on the delay tactic. But I do disagree, on the leverage issue, as you talked about big stick. Because I define leverage, here, as what the Democrats have, going into this conversation, great jobs report, granted, that Biden's numbers aren't as high as many will like it to be.

But the reality is that from the -- if you center the voter, in this conversation, they view this conversation, as an inherently Republican issue, that it's Republicans that keep pushing us, to this place, that it's Republicans that keep pushing the country, to the brink, because the President himself has said that, "I'm willing to entertain some cuts." So, why are we still having this conversation?

So -- and considering the leadership of Hakeem Jeffries, and trying to -- in uniting the Conference, I do believe that most voters are going to look at this, and say, "It is the Republicans bringing us here over and over and over again."

And maybe McCarthy is the one that settles this. I'm not sure he could do it in nominally. But my guess is that he'll probably end up having to work with McConnell, more than Biden, would have to work more with McConnell, more than anybody else, to get this thing done.

OSBORNE: But, at the same time, McConnell doesn't have the votes, in the House.

And so, when you talk about, the big stick, and the leverage aspect of it is that McCarthy is speaking to a caucus, that is sitting there, saying, "We were elected to reduce the spending in government," among many other things. So, if he's not able to show that there is going to be a reduction in that spend?

And, honestly, I think you -- we talked about this, a little bit earlier. The White House today, using the analogy of, if you have a loan payment, on your car, or mortgage, on your house? I think that's completely the wrong thing. Because, a Republican voter is going to look at that, and say, "Well, wait a minute. Who's going to bail us out when we don't have the money to pay for that?"


BASH: Well--

OSBORNE: And secondly, and the last point, I think, is that they're asking -- the White House is asking us to buy a boat, to go along with the car and the house that we can't afford.


OSBORNE: So, who's going to pay for that?

BASH: Well, I'm glad you're bringing this down to real people terms.

SMIKLE: Yes, I support.

BASH: Because, all of these politics are important. And that's what's at play. And that's going to define this meeting, tomorrow, and beyond.

But Rahel, we have you here, to represent real Americans, and how this affects them?


So, there are lots of sort of implications, in terms of what this could mean, certainly, for Wall Street, in terms of the financial implications, right within the financial markets. But then, there's also Main Street, and how that would impact real small businesses, which by the way, is a huge driver, of economic growth.

Goldman Sachs put out a survey, just a few days ago, interviewed, surveyed, more than 1,700 small business owners. And I thought what was really interesting is 65 percent of these small business owners that they surveyed said that they would be negatively impacted, if Congress did not fail -- did not raise the debt ceiling, right?

And so, you think about, for example, all the different small business contractors that the federal government works with, everything from floors, to IT, to food vendors, I mean, so many implications.


Now, what I also thought was interesting, in this Goldman survey, was that 90 percent believe it's important that the federal government raises or avoids default. But 81 percent said that they also think it's important that the government enact spending cuts, in conjunction, with these talks, right? And so, I thought that was really interesting that the solution here may not be black or white. It may be somewhere in the middle.

So, I talked to one of the senior advisers, of Small Business for America's Future. That's a national coalition, of small business owners. And I asked -- because I was curious. I speak to economists, every day, and I certainly know how economists feel, about the threat of a default here. "But how do small business owners feel? How do real people feel?"

And he said, "Look, there's a lot of frustration, for small business owners, who really want congressional leaders to act, because they've seen the impact that this will have, on their business, their economy, and for many of them, their employees."

Now, to be clear, he's referring there to a shutdown, which we have all experienced. But a collapse of this sort of -- a default of this sort would be a much more severe, would impact much more people. And so, that's the real threat here.

BASH: Really--

SOLOMON: And a lot of people are feeling it.

BASH: Really interesting, particularly the notion of spending cuts that people do want spending cuts. And we all know what's going on here. The question is, is it going to be attached to the debt ceiling? SMIKLE: Right.

BASH: Is it going to be separate? There's going to be some solution, presumably, where both sides can claim victory.

But that well, as you respond to this, I just want to bring in new poll numbers that came out, about President Biden's approval number. It's now down, according to The Washington Post, 36 percent. That is down from February. This is one poll. This is a snapshot in time. But it does give you a sense of the--

SMIKLE: Well--


BASH: --of maybe the leverage or not leverage that he has.

OSBORNE: I don't think anybody's looking at the poll numbers, right now. I mean, honestly, if you're a professional, and you're working in the White House, or you're working in the Speaker's office, or in the Senate Leader's office, you're not looking at the poll numbers.

I mean, you can say out publicly that "Yes, his numbers are low, and we have a lot of leverage here." The fact of the matter, he's the President, for the next two years. And these folks are also the Majority Leader, or the Republican leader, and they're Speaker of the House, until two years.

So, the leverage, I think, becomes, "Give me something I can sell, because I need 218 votes. If you want me to walk back there, with a clean debt limit bill, I'm not going to pass it, unless you're telling me that you're going to give me every single Democrat, on the bill, because you're going to have an abandoned ship of Republicans," I mean, there'll be a small cadre that just will never let it happen, or will never, go against the Speaker, and they'll let the debt limit pass.

But he needs something to go back to the Caucus, and rightly so. I mean, the public is saying we need spending cuts. At the same time, you also have all this money going overseas. It's like the -- it's like a perfect storm. And so, how do you justify sending all this money, overseas, but you're not cutting spending back here?

SMIKLE: Well, as I said--

BASH: Rahel--

SMIKLE: --the President has already agreed to do this. He just wants a clean bill.

And again, centering the voter, in all of this conversation, what does the average voter see? They see a united Democratic Party, united behind their Democratic leader, in Hakeem Jeffries, despite the President's low poll numbers. And they've been low for quite some time. The reality is that he has negotiating partners, within his party, to be able to go out there, and do the work. I don't know that that exists, on the Republican side. And that, I think, is the challenge that American voters are looking at that that who is the real leader of the Republican Party, that's going to be at this table, and actually put an end to this thing?

BASH: Yes. And I just want to note, for the record, that it's the Republican, at this table, who said President Biden's poll numbers don't matter, just for the record.

SMIKLE: Yes, he said.

OSBORNE: In the context of this, really.

BASH: I know. I know. I know. I know.


BASH: Jason, Basil, Rahel, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

OSBORNE: Thank you.

BASH: And tonight, a surprise victory, for Uvalde families, nearly a year, after the school massacre, there. A gun control bill that many loved ones, of victims, were pushing for, clearing a key hurdle, with the help of a couple of Republican state lawmakers. That's ahead.







BASH: A surprise move, in Texas, tonight. State lawmakers, including two Republicans, advanced a measure that would raise the age limit, to buy semi-automatic rifles.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There being eight ayes, and five nays, and zero present, not voting, the motion prevailed.



BASH: You hear there, the vote met with cheers, from families, who lost loved ones, almost a year ago, at Robb Elementary School, in Uvalde. Today's vote was the culmination of months of work. It keeps the bill's chances alive. But it moved out of the committee. Yet, it probably will face a very steep climb in the full Texas legislature.

Want to talk about that, the issue of guns, and much, much more, with former Congressman, Will Hurd. He's a Republican, who spent six years, representing Texas, including Uvalde, in the United States Congress.

Thank you so much for joining me. I appreciate it.

So, you have backed several gun control measures, over the years. You supported universal background checks. When you were in Congress, you called for raising the eligibility age, for assault-style weapons, after Uvalde.

Do the type of restrictions, you've backed, are they getting any more traction, particularly in the wake of more and more mass shootings?

WILL HURD, (R) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FROM TEXAS: Well, they're getting traction, amongst the public, right? When you look at what the public believes, and to include responsible gun owners, they believe these things are straightforward, and simple, and things that we need to do, in order to protect our kids.

The stat that doesn't get used enough, in these debates, is that half of our teenagers, in the United States of America, are afraid, of being shot at their school. That's a crazy number, and that's unacceptable.

And these families that have had to endure the worst tragedy that any family can deal with, right, the loss of a child, shouldn't have to be, in Austin, lobbying to get a bill passed, a couple of days, from the year anniversary of the death of their children. This should have already been done.

And, as you said, it's, my sources, here, in Austin, say this is going to be difficult to see final passage. But this movement is something small and, I think, it hopefully reflects that change in people's hearts.

BASH: You were on the inside, in Congress. Now, you are on the outside, looking in, as things have unfortunately gotten worse, with regard to gun violence.


What's the special sauce? What needs to change, to go from the public support, for changes, in gun laws--

HURD: Yes.

BASH: --which was true, when you were in Congress, just as it is now, to actually making that happen, when it comes to legislation and policy?

HURD: We need more elected officials, not being afraid, of their constituents, and not being afraid of a couple of nasty tweets.

The reality is, when you're thoughtful? Look, I had an A rating, from the NRA. The NRA supported my re-elections. But I also listened to groups, like Moms Demand Action. And when you realize the support that's out there? And, to be honest, who can look a mom, in their eye, and say, "I didn't do everything, within my power, to prevent this from happening, from somebody else."

So, what needs to change? We need more people standing up, and voting in primaries. The fact that only 23 percent of the country votes in primaries? We need to make sure like there's oftentimes better choices, in those primaries. But we need more people, to get involved, and make sure that we're getting people, in November that we like, and are going to be reflective, of where the majority of the country is.

BASH: Let's turn to immigration, Title 42, COVID-era emergency immigration restriction will lift, at the end of the day, on Thursday. You've been very critical of the Biden administration.

But you know very well, immigration reform is a bipartisan problem, because it's so politically divisive. What would you do differently, right now?

HURD: So, right now, this is something that the Administration can do. You do not need Title 42, to prevent people from coming into the country. You have to stop treating everybody as an asylum seeker.

And asylum is very narrow. You have to be part of a protected class. You have to be being persecuted for being part of that protected class. And the fact that everybody's being allowed in is what has seen this surge. 6.5 million people have come in this country, illegally, since President Biden was in office.

And we also, right now, you do not need legislation, to try to dismantle the human smuggling networks that are taking advantage, of these people that are trying to flee a crummy situation, to come here to the United States. On average--

BASH: The Administration says they need more funding, more border agents, things of that nature, to do that.

HURD: Well, look, I think there are -- this is not being taken, as a priority, within the broader Intelligence community, about stopping human smuggling, about stopping fentanyl, from coming into our country. Fentanyl drug overdoses has killed twice as many people, as gun violence, last year. And so, there are resources that can be focused, on this effort.

Look, they could streamline legal immigration, as well, like you have to deal with this crisis, on the border. But what's fascinating to me is the Democrats, whenever they're empowered, they don't bring things up that they know could potentially get the handful of votes, they need, in a place, like the Senate, to get passed. So, those are two things you can do immediately that doesn't require -- that doesn't require a legislation.

Look, where is our diplomacy in this area? Where are we making sure we're aligning USAID, and the philanthropic community, to make sure that we have long-term plans, in places, like the Northern Triangle, which has historically given, or has been -- has historically been the root cause, of much of our illegal immigration, now, because it's so bad, everybody is coming over. So, our diplomacy is not being engaged, in this initiative--

BASH: Well?

HURD: --to address those root causes in those other places.

BASH: Yes. I mean, in fairness, they are trying -- it's the Vice President's entire platform, or major part, of her platform. She has been down there, trying to do that.

HURD: Sure. Because 6--

BASH: But that's for another discussion. I have to ask you--

HURD: Yes. 6.5 million have still come in, so.

BASH: I have to--

HURD: They are doing well

BASH: I have to ask you.

HURD: Yes.

BASH: I have to ask you, before I let you go. You will be back, in New Hampshire, this month. Just last week, you said quote, "Nobody wants to see a repeat of 2020. I think there are a lot of Republicans that want to see conservative policies enacted. But if we don't win elections, we can enact those -- we can't enact those conservative policies." I think you said that up in New Hampshire, to our old friend, Paul Steinhauser.

You think you're the best choice, in 2024?

HURD: Well, look, I--

BASH: Are you going to run for president?

HURD: I am honored to have served my country, in many a different ways, whether it was in the CIA, in Congress. I'm not closing the door on being able to serve my country again.

I'm sick and tired of losing. I think that if we want to keep this century, the American century, we got to make some big changes, and have commonsense problems, to complicated issues.


And I also believe something I've learned in my time in Congress, we're actually better together. And there's an opportunity to get the right Republican that can appeal to Independents and Democrats.

BASH: Are you that Republican? HURD: I think someone like me has an opportunity to beat a President, who has, what did you say, a 36 percent approval rating. But again, the opportunity to serve my country, I've always looked for ways to be able to do that.

BASH: When are you going to decide?

HURD: Well, I think, anybody who's thinking about running for office, there's a time horizon on that. But--

BASH: It's ticking. Quickly. It's ticking fast.

HURD: Say that again.

BASH: It's ticking fast.

HURD: Oh, it's always ticking, yes, yes.

BASH: Yes.

HURD: But, like I said, the thing my father, my 90-year-old father always told me, "Don't be desperate. When you're desperate, you make bad decisions." So, I'm going to always evaluate what's the best way, for me, to help a country that has given me so much.

BASH: Will Hurd, former Congressman, from Texas, sounds like maybe future presidential candidate. We'll see. Come back and let us know when you decide.

HURD: Sure.


And up next, 21-year-old U.S. tennis star, she announces an indefinite break, from the sport, joining a slew of other young athletes, and celebrities, doing the same.

Former professional tennis player, Pam Shriver, is here to talk about that next.



BASH: A 21-year-old tennis star, took to social media, to announce a break, from the sport. Amanda Anisimova says she needs time to focus on her mental health. She played in tournaments, against Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff.

And she wrote, on Instagram, "I've been really struggling with my mental health and burnout since the summer of 2022. It's become unbearable being at tennis tournaments. At this point my priority is my mental well-being and taking a break for some time. I've worked as hard as I could to push through it. I will miss being out there, and I appreciate all the continuous support."

Let's bring in former professional tennis player, Pam Shriver.

Thank you so much, for joining me.

You were about the same age, as Anna (ph), when you became a worldwide tennis star. You were in the finals, for the U.S. Open. When you saw and read this announcement, what did you think?

PAM SHRIVER, FORMER PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER: Well, unfortunately, we've seen it in tennis and other sports and, in young people, who maybe have a high-profile public job. In this day and age, it happens pretty frequently. Amanda, I'm glad she's taking care of herself that she recognized she could not push through.

Really, what's the toughest injury, for any athlete, which is when your mental health isn't as healthy as you need it to be. So, she follows in the footsteps of other high-profile players, like Andreescu and Osaka, recently. But Andre Agassi wrote about it, in his book a few decades ago, Mardy Fish, on the men's side. So, it's not just related to women. It's on both sides.

BASH: That's a really important point. It's not. And I'll just bring another sports, Michael Phelps, and the list goes on.

I want to read a tweet, from a former world number one tennis player, Chris Evert. You came up with her, I know, in the world of tennis. She said, "It seems like a glamorous life, but it isn't. For a teenager, it is not a normal life. Every day, you're either a winner or a loser. You're put on a pedestal or you're shamed on social media. The highs and lows provide no balance. There is a price. Take your time Amanda."

Can you relate to that?

SHRIVER: Very much so.

First off, Chrissy is one of the great spokespeople, and represents women's tennis, the champion mentality, but also very compassionate. So I'm glad that past champions, like Chrissy, are supporting Amanda, and other players, and other athletes, from other sports that struggle with mental health.

So, I can relate a lot. And when I look back, and think about certain stages, of my career, the language, and coming forward, about mental health, wasn't there? I certainly recognize I struggled during my 19 years.

BASH: And when you were playing the game, there was no social media. How much do you think social media, amplifies this?

And, as you answer that, I'm also thinking about people, who are not worldwide, athletes, or even celebrities, in general, but people, who an average person, who deals with mental health struggles, for whom, their social media feed might be the spotlight, that shines on them, and makes them -- gives them challenges, with regard to their mental health.

SHRIVER: Absolutely. I mean, I come at this also as a parent of three teenagers, who have unfortunately spent their teenage years, with the social media, and had to make difficult decisions, whether to stay on it or not. And I think all of us have to look at that.

And I think tennis players have, most have social media platforms that they have to promote certain things. But boy, you need to know boundaries, how to keep yourself healthy, around things, like social media.

And I'll also say, this ear of young players, like Anisimova, also had to deal with a global pandemic, something that had never happened in tennis before. And to try and play a global sport during the stressors of that coupled with social media? It's been a tough time.

BASH: Yes. That is definitely true.

And back to tennis. Do you believe that the League is doing enough to support mental health, particularly the mental health of young athletes?

SHRIVER: Well, the WTA Tour, which is the governing body of Women's tennis, they've actually had staff, in mental health, for 25 years, which came right after I retired. And the staff has tripled, in the last five years. So they, actually, WTA was ahead of the game.

The USTA also had a summit, at last year's U.S. Open, a mental health summit. And that initiative is going forward because the sport realizes and, I hope, tennis can lead the way, not only with mental health, but also with stronger safeguarding, to keep our athletes, in the workplaces, safe as possible. The two things really go together.

BASH: Oh, that is so true.

And, again, when you were coming up, and you recognize some of the challenges, we are seeing, and hearing, from Amanda, and others? People didn't talk about mental health. And they're talking about it now. And that is a good thing.

And we should also note it is May. And May is Mental Health Awareness Month. And it is important to continue to shine a light on this, so that people can continue to discuss it, because that's the only way that people can get better. Appreciate it.

SHRIVER: Well, and Dana, thanks for bringing it up, on your show.

BASH: OK. Thank you.

And thank you so much, for watching.

"CNN TONIGHT" continues after a break.