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State of the Race with Kasie Hunt
Israel Forms Emergency Government and War Cabinet; Israeli Airstrikes Bombard Gaza after Hamas Attacks; Israeli Official: Babies & Toddlers Found "Decapitated"; Some Democrats Break with Biden, Urge End to Israel Funding; U.S. House Republicans Prepare to Vote for Speaker; Palestinians: Hospitals will run out of Power Thursday. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired October 11, 2023 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KASIE HUNT, CNNI HOST: Hello, everyone, I'm Kasie Hunt to our viewers watching in the United States and around the world. It is Wednesday,
October 11, 11 a.m. here in Washington and 6 p.m. in Israel. We of course, begin our coverage there. Israel has formed an emergency government and war
Former Defense Minister Benny Gantz will join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Current Defense Minister. So far the opposition leader
European has not joined in. The government will not pass any laws or make decisions unrelated to the war.
This announcement coming as Israel's military says they're taking steps to ensure a Hamas attack inside Israel never happens, again 300,000 Israeli
military reservists, now amassing near the Gaza border. Israeli airstrikes are leveling buildings in Gaza. The IDF says Hamas militants are hiding
inside them, a spokesperson calling the militants cowards.
Electricity is out in Gaza and Israel is enacting a complete blockade. Palestinian health officials say hospitals will run out of fuel to operate
generators by tomorrow. We are seeing the gruesome aftermath of the carnage that Hamas left behind as it rated villages along the border, dead bodies
and horrifying reports of the slaughter of Israeli civilians. Here's what the Israeli Prime Minister had to say about it in a phone call with
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We were struck so Saturday by an attack, who savagery I can say we have not seen since the Holocaust. I
mean, we had hundreds massacred families wiped out in their beds in their homes. Women brutally raped and murdered, over 100 kidnapped including
children. They're even worse than ISIS and we need to treat them as such.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: And for the latest now from the Middle East, CNN's, Becky Anderson live in Tel Aviv. Becky thanks for being with us. Of course, we've heard so
much about the atrocities on the Israeli side. Obviously, Gaza also beginning to really suffer the fallout from all of this, what's the latest?
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR CONNECT THE WORLD: Five days into this war. The question is really what happens next. So let's start on the Israeli side.
Because perhaps we are sort of learning a little more about at least who is in charge of what happens next.
And agreement has now been reached between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, who is the Head of the National Unity Party in
opposition, and crucially, a Former Defense Minister and the agreement is to form this emergency government. It will have a war cabinet separate to
the regular security cabinet.
And in that cabinet, this war can cabinet will be the Current Defense Minister and a number of officials who have security and defense
experience. Now that these negotiations have been ongoing since the attack on Saturday morning, this government will not pass any laws or make any
consider decisions that do not concern the conduct of this war.
And this announcement implies, of course, that the controversial judicial overhaul will not be moving forward while this emergency government is in
place. But crucially, in the first instance, this is a cabinet of seasoned defense and security officials tasked to oversee what is this unprecedented
position that Israelis now find themselves in a very, very complex next steps.
What the Israelis do next in Gaza will have huge consequences for Israel and of course, for the Palestinians living in Gaza. 1200 Israelis dead now
to date, close to 3000 injured, in Gaza, over 1000 dead and over 5000 injured and your right to point out the sole power station now out of fuel.
Some Palestinians do have generators, but the blockade will mean that electricity for those generators or fuel for those generators will run out
within a week. 7 hospitals bombed 10 Paramedics killed 14 U.N. facilities damaged at least 4 U.N. workers killed and we're hearing reports of more
and close to 300,000 people displaced.
We also know of course, and this is absolutely, front and center for the Israelis. There are between as we understand it 150 Israeli hostages held
by Hamas in places around Gaza. The complexity of what happens next whether this is a continued intense bombardment from the air by Israel or a ground
offensive is hugely complicated by the fact on the Israelis part, at least, that those hostages are there, Kasie.
HUNT: All right, Becky Anderson up for us in Tel Aviv. Thank you, Becky very much. We really appreciate it. And for more now, let's bring in
today's panel, CNN Military Analyst and retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton. Seth Jones, a Senior Advisor for the International Security
Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
And Margaret Talev, she is the Senior Contributor at Axios. And the Director of the Democracy Journalism and Citizenship Institute at Syracuse
University. Thank you all for being here. And I do want to bring into this conversation that's just crossed our international alert system.
And Seth, it's honestly really hard to read it says babies and toddlers were found with head decapitated. This is from a spokesperson for Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This just coming in it was it's in Kfar Aza. And forgive me if I'm not pronouncing that correctly, this village.
But babies and toddlers with no heads, I mean, how are we supposed to grapple with this as an international community?
SETH JONES, SENIOR ADVISER FOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY PROGRAM AT CSIS: This is barbarism, this is outright brutality. We have seen elements of this
have come from organizations like the Islamic State. This will have a profound and already has had a profound impact on the Israeli population
that wants the Israeli Defense Forces to move.
And to as much as they can degrade if not eliminate Hamas, which we'll get into. But this is going to have a profound psychological impact on the
Israelis and then much of the international population as well.
HUNT: Yes, I mean, it's just awful. And you know, President Biden, I think this was one of the reasons I want to show everyone a little bit of what he
had to say yesterday was a very strong address that he gave yesterday afternoon. He says that the U.S. will have Israel's back, take a look at
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Hamas offers nothing but terror and bloodshed with no regard, to who pays the price. Let there be no
doubt the United States has Israel's back will make sure that Jewish and democratic state of Israel can defend itself today, tomorrow, as we always
have. It's as simple as that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: So he was pretty declared at their Margaret, for obvious reasons.
MARGARET TALEV, SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR AT AXIOS: Yes. And it was as much what he didn't say is what he did say what he didn't say was declarative. What
he didn't say was urge restraint or you know keep a level head there was nothing like that in the absence of that language.
If you're in diplomacy or national security means go for it. We understand you're going to need to do, what you need to do at home domestically,
President Biden speech received and being seen, as well as overseas as some of the strongest support that a U.S. President could give to Israel since
And just as we were preparing to come here at the Biden for President Reelection campaign, putting out kind of an accumulation of every, you
know, every Israeli diplomat from across the ideological spectrum praising that speech. So there is a domestic political element to what he's doing,
but I think, for the President and his team is also a matter of broadcasting to Israel, and to the rest of the world enemies of Israel.
But also Russia and Ukraine and other parts of the world that this kind of barbaric attack that targets civilians, is a red line for the U.S. and that
there's no question from U.S. perspective about standing with Israel and providing more funding and support to Israel.
HUNT: Yes, you know, I'm glad you mentioned other countries that may have an interest or are trying to exploit or get themselves, involved in this
situation, because Biden also seemed to have a message for them in his speech, one of resolve, take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Any country, any organization, anyone thinking of taking advantage of situation. I have one more, don't. Hearts may be broken. But our resolve
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Cedric Leighton, that's quite a message to Iran. I mean, fill in the blank.
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, absolutely. Kasie, it's a message to Iran, it's a message to Hezbollah, and it's a message to
any of the other groups that might even be thinking about taking advantage of this situation so any Arab group, the Syrians, for example, or elements
All of these groups have a relationship either with Iran or with Hamas, or with Hezbollah, or with all of them. And the key thing here is a message
that Biden sent to them telling them that, you know, the United States will not only backup Israel, but if necessary, move in as it needs to with
HUNT: Well, and to that point, Seth, I mean, you were kind of alluding to that earlier, I mean, it looks like we are in for unprecedented action from
the Israelis in Gaza.
JONES: Yes, I think the military objective of the IDF is to attempt to crush Hamas. For the time being in Gaza, I don't see any way for them to do
that without going in on the ground. They're already cordoned off the area. That will be a brutal fight. I was just in Israel, talking with the IDF
about operations in the West Bank, in Gaza.
It's urban terrain, snipers, booby traps. It's going to be very difficult to separate who's a civilian and who's a supporter of Hamas, which means
we're going to see a lot of civilian casualties, some fatalities, and some broader casualties. Again IDF already at a disadvantage on intelligence
we've already seen I didn't catch this operation. So I worry about the impact this is going to have on very innocent people in that area.
HUNT: You said you were just there. I mean, do you have any takeaways from what you learned when you were over there about why this might have
happened or why they were caught unawares?
JONES: Well, it's unclear. I will say, when I spoke to senior IDF officials, they were deeply concerned about ground incursions by Hezbollah,
into Israel from the north, possibly taking advantage of the demonstrations that were occurring while I was there.
The Israelis were already going on while I was there conducting operations in Jenin and and northern parts of the West Bank. They may have assessed
they had Gaza largely locked down.
HUNT: They were looking at other way.
JONES: But I don't know that that was the priority focus at the time.
LEIGHTON: It was one of those things Kasie, you know, where you were looking at the problems of intelligence, you've got all kinds of things
going on in the real world. And the Israelis, you know, as Seth was describing this, they probably saw this as you know, if they saw stuff
happening in Gaza.
They might have thought that was the fate and they looking at what's happening in Lebanon thinking that the threat is from there. It's a mistake
that is easy to make.
HUNT: Yes, that is easy to make. All right, we're going to take a quick break and when we get back an update on the effort to secure the release of
hostages held by Hamas in Gaza.
HUNT: We're looking at live pictures of new strikes on Gaza at this hour just after 6 pm in Israel and the Gaza Strip. We have new developments
regarding the fate of the hostages that Hamas is holding a diplomatic, source telling CNN that Qatar is mediating with Israel and Hamas to
exchange women and children held hostage in Gaza.
For Palestinian women and teenagers held in Israeli jails. Israel's Ambassador to the U.N. says Hamas is holding as many as 150 people hostage
at various locations in Gaza. President Joe Biden says that Americans are among them. And the State Department tells CNN that the U.S. is trying to
track a number of Americans who are so far unaccounted for.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEW MILLER, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: Every day we get new information. Look, there's a list of Americans who we have confirmed dead
there are Americans who are who remain unaccounted for. I do expect that unfortunately, that the list of Americans who are confirmed dead will rise
We continue to work through the list are unaccounted and find that you know obviously some of those we will locate or who will report in some of them.
We do find unfortunately they're deceased and others were able to confirm were taken hostage. So it's a moving target all the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: And we are back now with our panel, we've had quite a bit of conversation here. In the break that I want to kind of let our viewers in
on a little bit as Margaret, you were talking with Seth about kind of what are some of the scenarios here? So, Seth, we have this hostage crisis,
These hostages as we kind of laid out here. We right now believe them to be in Gaza, according to the U.S. government and other sources. And Cedric can
fill us in on the details of an initial military operation. But if they do go into try to get them what does the aftermath of that look like?
JONES: Well, I think there are a lot of questions about, first of all sending in special operations teams we've seen when I was in U.S. Special
Operations. You don't always get it right. They may decide to move on hostages. And they may start executing when you try to move in.
But I think there's a broader question that Israel is going to have a challenge with and that is who governs Gaza for the foreseeable future.
It's been Hamas, which has had a central governance control of Gaza. The Israelis are obviously not going to trust Hamas. Now, they're going to try
to eliminate them as much as they can.
So it may be Israel, the Israeli Defense Forces that occupied Gaza for some period of time. That's not going to be pretty but that's not a long term
The Palestinian Authority is in dire straits right now. So Israel has a problem of who governs the area including on the Palestinian side and that
is one that's not going to get sorted out quickly.
HUNT: Right, of course, I'm going to push pause on this conversation here about geopolitics because I want to go back to the human piece of this with
our Hadas Gold who has more for us on what was found in that village. And it is truly I mean I have a hard time talking about it. Hadas, what's the
HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Kasie, we are now getting confirmation from the Israeli Prime Minister's Office that Kfar Aza, which
is a Kibbutz, a small community that by the northwest part of the Gaza strip that babies and toddlers were found decapitated within this
We knew that babies and toddlers and children had been killed. We knew that they had been kidnapped. We had heard reports that this had happened as
well, there had been decapitations. We know there had been decapitations of Israeli soldiers. But now we are getting confirmation of something that is
so much worse.
Which, is that babies and toddlers were also subjected to this brutality by these terrorists who invaded their homes invaded their safety, in some
cases, literally taking them out of their cribs out of their strollers and killing them now, in the most brutal way. The Israeli Prime Minister's
Office has now been saying that Hamas is ISIS.
Because they're acquainting you know what we've seen ISIS do in the past, it's hard, honestly, to stomach for me as a mother as somebody who's
pregnant right now to just imagine what had happened down there. And I think this will only fuel the Israelis even further, to completely
obliterate Hamas as much as they can.
The Israelis already have been shocked and angry and sad. I've never heard rhetoric coming out of the Israeli military or the Israeli government like
this, what we've heard them say that they will try to accomplish, but I think this will only further fuel that fire.
HUNT: Yes, look, Hadas, I'm glad, that you mentioned it. I didn't want to bring sort of your personal situation into it. But as a mom, myself, have a
seven month old baby and a four year old toddler. I've been thinking a lot about you and a lot about all of the other Israeli mothers who have been
hearing about this or in obviously, the cases of the parents of those children, losing their children in the most horrific way. It is really
difficult. So thank you very much for your reporting. Hadas I really appreciate it.
GOLD: Thank you.
HUNT: Cedric, I mean, I think, I'm sorry, I just need a second to compose myself. This does, as Hadas says, really fuel. And I think Seth, you
touched on this right? That the appetite among the Israeli public, for reasons that we just outlined, is to go in and get rid of the people that
did this. But as Seth notes, that's potentially a very long, very difficult path.
LEIGHTON: Yes, it really is. And the key thing to think about here, Kasie, is the fact that not only are you getting into a place that is so crowded
and has so many different warrens and alleys, and you know, everything else that you can imagine in a Middle Eastern settlement.
But the other problem that you have is that all of these areas, probably booby trapped, or at least in some way, you know, made difficult to enter.
And what they can expect, are probably some of the most gruesome tactics that Hamas would bring to bear on the Israeli soldier. So they have to be
prepared for that.
In essence, it's a give no quarter kind of war, which is Oregon's back to medieval times, you know, Genghis Khan, and those kinds of things. And it
is a nothing can bring together a population more than to see the other side, brutalize your own people. And when that happens, I, then all bets
are off as to what comes next, because the Israelis are furious at this, and rightly so.
But there's a long history here. And there are going to be a lot of different aspects to this, that where the Israelis will have to be careful
with how they do this. President Biden gave them a bit of a veiled warning as well by telling them that they need to follow the rules of war, for the
laws of armed conflict to the rules of warfare. And that is going to be very difficult to do in this time, as much as they tried to do that.
HUNT: Yes, Margaret, I mean, it really does harken back to a time when there were fewer rules, fewer laws of war. And I honestly, I mean, they've
been calling this Israel's 9/11. They've been saying was the deadliest day for Jewish people since the Holocaust. I mean, these images, and even the
ones we haven't seen any pictures of these decapitated babies.
But it does bring back imagery of the very worst things that have been done to the Jewish people. Yes, I mean, talk about war as hell. I can't imagine
a war as hell than this.
TALEV: And so you really for the last 70 years, we have looked at most conflicts through the lens of kind of the World War Two architecture during
the ISIS years you saw different kinds of asymmetric, you know, when it is a terrorist organization versus a nation or a government.
It's a symmetric because the terrorist organization isn't trying to think about what is doing to civilians, other than brutalizing civilians, and the
government has an obligation to try to protect civilians, even if they are the civilians of that are part of a population whose, you know, terrorist -
- you're fighting.
So it is much more complicated. But we have gone down to a situation where only a couple of weeks ago, the conversations that the world was having
about Bibi Netanyahu, were about judicial reform divisive internal political issues, whether there will be Saudi-Israeli normalization.
TALEV: This is a completely different conversation. And the Israeli people, civilians now have the sympathy of the world.
TALEV: And absolutely, The American people and the American political system, there are a very small number of House Democrats who have been
talking about who've been critical of Israel in the past and are saying you have to stop U.S. funding to Israel now. That is a tiny minority on the
This has united House Republicans who were divided over funding international conflicts about whether to support other countries are now
saying you have to support Israel. It's a fundamental shift, because of the depravity and the deep concern for civilian life that we're talking about.
HUNT: All right, let's go now to CNN's Jeremy diamond. He is live in Southern Israel. Jeremy, we've just been talking here about the revelations
about the depths of the depravity around what has happened. There you obviously what's going on behind you? It's a very busy place. Bring us up
DIAMOND: Yes, that's right where we are right now we're about 12 kilometers away from the Gaza border. Behind me here you have a checkpoint that is
essentially preventing Israeli civilians who don't have authorization from getting any closer to the Gaza border.
We were allowed through yesterday one of these checkpoints, but they first checked to make sure that we had our bulletproof vests, that we had
helmets. So that is the kind of heightened state of alert that we are under. In fact, it was only about 20 minutes, half hour ago at most that we
had rocket fire coming from Gaza.
We actually saw the rockets before those sirens went off. And then from another direction, we saw the Iron Dome missile heading to intercept those
rockets. The interception happens behind the cloud. But you could we could tell from where we were, that it was happening really right over head.
And again, this is kind of the tempo that we are seeing of life in Southern Israel right now. This is certainly a country that is on a war footing all
around us. We have been watching this massive mobilization effort beginning to take place more than 300,000 reservists have been called up.
And just behind us, you can't see them from our position now. But there are about two dozen armored personnel carriers in a formation facing the Gaza
Strip. We don't know whether a ground invasion is going to take place. But certainly most people in the country believe that is what is coming next.
The question is, has Bibi Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, and now his new partner in this emergency governments Benny Gantz, the Former
Defense Minister are, you know, are they prepared to make the political decision and the military decision to give the order to go in and invade
HUNT: Yes, quite a stark decision to be staring at. Jeremy Diamond, thank you very much for that reporting. And thank you, Seth, and Cedric for being
here today. We really appreciate your time and your expertise. We'll be right back.
HUNT: Welcome back to "State of the Race". Our panel joins me now. CNN Political Commentator Kate Bedingfield, former Communications Director for
the Biden White House, Republican Strategist Kevin Madden, a Former Adviser for Mitt Romney's presidential campaigns and Margaret Talev, Senior
Contributor to Axios, also the Director of Democracy Journalism and the Citizenship Institute at Syracuse University.
Welcome all, we've just been having a pretty tough conversation about the humanitarian aspects of what is unfolding in Israel, having just learned
about some of the tactics that we're using in an Israeli village. And I think that you know, I bring that up, because there is a political
conversation going on here at home.
And it is one about you know, I want to take this into pieces that we have a speaker's race going on. But I want to start with some conversation in
the Democratic Party, which is around some of the comments have been made by we shorthand them as members of the squad right, House Democrats on the
I want to underscore this is just a handful of people. But there are posts, I want to put up Rashida Tlaib's post first, the path to the future, she's
talking about the future between Israel and Palestine must include lifting blockade and in the occupation, and dismantling the apartheid system.
Her colleague, Cori Bush said, "As part of achieving adjusting lasting peace, we must do our part to stop this violence and trauma by ending the
government support for U.S. for Israeli military occupation, and apartheid". And I think that's the part I want to underscore ending U.S.
government support for Israeli military occupation.
And then Ilhan Omar, instead of continuing on conditional weapons sales and military aid to Israel, I urge the United States at long last to use its
diplomatic might to push for peace. So I'm going to start here, and then I'm going to show a couple of different perspectives.
But, Kate, I'm putting you on the spot here, I realized, but this is something you know, the White House is going to have to grapple with this.
The president gave an extraordinarily forceful speech yesterday where he said that the United States stands behind Israel unequivocally.
But you're going to see these comments in campaign ads, and you're going to see some recriminations, even from I mean, I know there's a lot of really
hard feelings inside the party. On the part of, you know, many, most of the Jewish members of Congress are Democrats.
KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, I mean, as you said, the president obviously gave a really forceful speech yesterday, made
very clear that he stands with Israel, his government stands with Israel. Obviously, there has been I think, across the board in the Democratic
Party, there has been wholesale condemnation and rejection of the grotesque and hideous terror attacks that we've seen.
And even members who are expressing some of these opinions have also said that obviously what we saw over the course of the last few days was awful
and disgusting. You know, I think for the president and for the Democratic Party, this is a moment for them to continue to put forth their view of
where America should be in the world, which is to say you know standing strong, rejecting terrorism, standing with our allies showing the strength
of our allegiances.
And the need for these kinds of these strong ties across the Middle East and elsewhere. So you know, will these comments come up? They will. Is this
an incredibly complicated situation that people have been working on and looking for political solutions to for decades and decades and decades?
Yes, it is. And there will be complicated conversations, but I don't think that President Biden has been anything but clear about where he and his
governments -- .
HUNT: Yes, I mean, I think the critics of this and I mean, I take your point that there has been some condemnation from some of these folks. I
think the point is that in the cases of Tlaib and Bush there is has been a condemnation of violence writ large, but not specifically, I want to kind
of show you what AOC Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had to say, which has some significant differences from what we heard from the other.
She wrote in a post first today's devastating for all those who seek lasting peace and respect for human rights in Israel and Palestine. She
obviously mentioned both, but then she says, I condemn Hamas's attack in the strongest possible terms. My colleague, Manu Raju, caught up with her
earlier this morning in the hallways of Congress, take a look at what she had to say to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): I've made very clear that Hamas's attack is absolutely horrific. And that we have to hold space for the
humanity of everyone in the region here with all the families affected, and the brutality of this violence. This is a situation of incredible trauma
for Israelis, especially on Saturday and Palestinians who have been enduring the realities of occupation for decades.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: I mean, Margaret, that's significantly different than what we've heard from some other Democrats. A handful of other Democrats, I have to
TALEV: It's absolutely significantly different. Because what it's saying is that if you have to say that, because if you don't say that it appears that
you're condoning, on some level.
TALEV: The attacks.
HUNT: Silence is complicity.
TALEV: And that there is clearly a distinction between the actions of Hamas and the views and thoughts and liability of innocent citizens, whether
they're Palestinian or whether there's really that civilians are different than a terrorist group, right.
There's a distinction, but you have to call out the actions of the terrorist group. And I think that's what you see AOC doing for the handful
of squad members who have sought to make the argument about peace fires or ceasing funding in the middle of these atrocities.
The White House so far has drawn a pretty clear line. I think you saw the White House spokeswoman yesterday come out and say that calling those who
are calling for a ceasefire at this time are just wrong. And you've got the many progressives, the full House, democratic Jewish Caucus, all, all
drawing a line here.
Whether or not they've been critical of the Netanyahu government or policies in the past that saying, now is not the time for that now's the
time to be very clear about calling out Hamas.
HUNT: So Kevin Madden, you're a Republican, but we don't do partisan pile on here. So I want to push you on the fact that we're going to talk about
the mechanics of the speaker's race and who might win it in a second. But the reality is, the White House is asking for millions of dollars in aid to
Israel. And they can't get it because Republicans can't get their act together. What's the responsibility of the Republican Party right now?
KEVIN MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, the responsibility of the party is very clear. And I think there are, you know, I think the one of the
things I point out that everybody's saying is that there are very real minority, minority factions who don't represent the majority of parties are
always been a very real thing in politics.
But it's how and when the majorities inside both parties, Democrats and Republicans who support Israel, speak with clarity, unity, and do so
relentlessly. And so I think there's going to be a debate inside the party about where funding comes from, and you know, they're going to Ukraine
issue is going to get drawn into this, unfortunately, and it's going to get muddled.
But the folks who stand with Israel, and Democrats and Republicans across the aisle who believe in speaking on this issue with unity and clarity, and
having a united American policy on this are going to have to come up with a political plan for that, or are going are going to have to come up with a
communications plan for that.
And they're going to have to do it methodically and relentlessly. That's really the core thing. That's really the, that's the hardest thing to do
right now in today's politics, which is break through all of the clutter and achieve that. And I think that's what I'm hoping that leaders with in
my part within my party are able to achieve over the next couple of weeks because we have all this other stuff going on right now that's distracting
KATE: Yes. --
TALEV: But it's interesting, you said that unfortunately the Ukraine funding is going to get drawn in.
TALEV: For a lot of people these conflicts are absolutely connected. I mean, the Russians have been systematically targeting and Killing Ukrainian
civilian's babies and women as well.
There's a concern that the unity of purpose in helping Israel is going to end up taking away efforts at Ukraine to that that could empower Putin that
Putin is going to gain from these atrocities in the Middle East.
TALEV: They are connected.
MADDEN: You're right and they are connected. What I worry about is that people start bartering on them when they're connected in a unified way.
HUNT: Yes, and this is a very important conversation. Thank you both. Our panel is going to stick with us. Coming up the battle for the speaker's
gavel continues in Congress. And House Republicans meet behind closed doors right now to try and choose their pick. We are live on Capitol Hill with
the latest coming up next.
HUNT: Welcome back. We are tracking developments at the U.S. Capitol round one of voting in their attempt to find a house speaker is underway.
Republicans are of course deeply divided as they try to figure this out. It is a very complicated process. This is something that can go through many
rounds of balloting.
Last time it took 15 rounds before Kevin McCarthy got the top job back in January. Although we should note that that was on the floor of the house,
this particular process that's going on behind closed doors right now is one that can also take a lot of time, but it's not as embarrassing because
it doesn't play out in public.
They're trying to avoid exactly what we saw last time. CNN's Lauren Fox is at the U.S. Capitol. Lauren, my understanding is their members coming out.
So if you have somebody you need to talk to you, I want you to feel free to go do that. And we'll stick with you if that's what makes sense. But tell
us what you're learning.
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, right now, all we know is that members are behind closed doors that they are voting to try
and kill a rules change that potentially would raise the threshold of how many votes it would take to get nominated to be the Speaker of the House in
the Republican conference.
Right now that number is the simple majority. There was a rule brought forward and debated for about the last hour and a half in which you would
raise that threshold to the magic number of 217 votes.
The reason that some members want to do that is they want to avoid that messy fight that you saw on the floor. So despite the fact that they are
now closing in on a two hour meeting, Kasie, all they're doing right now is still debating the rule around how they are going to elect a new speaker of
They have not gotten into the nitty gritty where they will go round after round of voting on potential candidates. Of course two men is running Steve
Scalise, the majority leader, as well as Jim Jordan, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Both of those men say that they are unifiers,
both of those men claim that they have a plan to avoid a government shutdown.
But of course, it will be up to the members in that room to determine if they're going to get out of there today with a new speaker, or whether this
fight is going to continue. Kasie?
HUNT: Yes, I'm going to go with potentially continue, but I guess we could have a breakthrough. You never know. Lauren Fox, thank you very much. Stay
close. Let us know if you got anything. Let's bring back our panel. Kevin Madden, Republican Strategist, Former Advisor for Mitt Romney in the 2008
and 2012 presidential campaigns.
We have Kate Bedingfield, CNN Political Commentator, and, of course, the former White House Communications Director for President Biden and of
course, Margaret Talev, Senior Contributor at Axios. Thank you all for being back with us. And Kevin Madden, I promised I would come to you on
this because you are a Republican.
And as such, you have to answer for all of this nuttiness now, I'm kidding. But you know, you and I met, first met covering when I covered the 2012
Romney campaign, and this was a very different Republican Party. Talk a little bit about the forces inside this conference right now, because I
would have thought that this Israel situation would have lit more of a fire underneath these people.
Because we were talking last week when this all unfolded about the potential implications and there was no crisis. But everyone looked around
and said, if there is a crisis, the U.S. government can act. Well, here we are.
And yet it still seems that they are in exactly the same place that they were, they are divided. And there is no clear path to naming a speaker even
before the end of the week, potentially.
MADDEN: Yes, well, look, you forgot one of the other important parts of my resume, which is that I worked up on the House of Representatives.
HUNT: I said. You're right.
MADDEN: For two majority leaders. Yes, I've seen a lot of these. I've seen a lot of these circuses up close. But you asked about, like, what kind of
dynamics are driving the conference right now? Well, one of the things that's, you know that that's one of the splits within inside the Republican
Party on the House of Representatives is that you have a governing conference, and then you have a performative conference.
And there's a bunch of folks out there who are more interested in sort of driving outrage amongst their base. They're more interested in sort of
getting clicks and going on cable TV and talk radio, and saying that they're in Washington fighting against the establishment.
And it's that part of the Republican conference right now, that's really, I think, crucial to answering the question whether or not we ever reach 218.
There are a large majority of folks that want to govern, and they want to move on, and they want to select the speaker, and they recognize the moment
that we're in right now.
And that it should motivate folks to come together and make a decision about a speaker and get back to the role of governing. But unfortunately,
right now, I think it's we're probably in for a longer fight than you might expect.
HUNT: Yes. Kate Bedingfield, what's the White House thinking behind the scenes right now? Obviously, Kevin McCarthy was ousted. Democrats decided
in the house, decided they weren't going to help him. The outcome could be a speaker, Jim Jordan. And John Boehner, the former Republican House
Speaker called him a legislative terrorist.
And basically saying that he was willing to shut everything down, not just the government, but the entire process in order to make either make a point
or get what he wanted. Is that House Speaker, Jim Jordan, you know, worse than what they had before? How are they preparing?
BEDINGFIELD: Well, I think you asked how they're feeling. I think they're frustrated. I think there are, you know, as we've just discussed, there are
obviously significant pieces of business that in front of the Congress, we are in the midst of a crisis in the Middle East, and Congress is
essentially frozen, unable to act.
So I think the White House is very frustrated to not have a, you know, legislative partner on Capitol Hill, obviously, they're never going to
agree on the specifics of every single path forward. But, you know, in order for government to function, there has to be a good faith expectation
from everybody that they are trying to get to an outcome.
And you don't have that in the current Republican Party, frankly, in part because of as Kevin called it, the performative caucus. So, you know, for
the White House, I think, you know, they are trying to grapple with what, you know, what does a path forward look like with a speaker Scalise?
What does the path forward look like with a speaker Jordan? I think for them, the key thing is going to be to continue to focus on their
objectives. They can't allow themselves to be whipsawed by whoever the speaker is, because as we've seen unless they change the motion to vacate
threshold whoever becomes speaker is going to be at the mercy of the performative wing of the caucus.
So I think regardless of who takes the Chair, the White House is going to have to figure out how to navigate a very rocky moment, you know, globally
without a serious governing partner in the House Republicans on Capitol Hill. So that's obviously incredibly frustrating.
But I think for the White House, they've got to just continue to, to focus on what they're trying to achieve and talk to the American people directly
about what they're trying to achieve.
HUNT: Yes, Madden, I think performative caucus might stick as the way to talk about these folks around here. Margaret Talev, I mean, to Kate's
point, you know, President Biden, in his many years in government and public service has developed a reputation for being somebody who has been
able to cut deals.
I mean, when Obama was President, he was vice president, he was the one up on Capitol Hill negotiating with Mitch McConnell to try and figure out how
to handle those crises. I mean, it's increasingly felt covering Capitol Hill like it is, we are lurching as a government from crisis to crisis to
But this lack of speaker is making it feel kind of all incredibly broken. I mean, do you get any sense that there is an increased imperative among
Republicans to fix this right now? Or do they just want to keep heading toward the cliff?
TALEV: You welsh -- me? Yes. I think they want to fix it except for nobody wants to step back and let the other person be in charge. And so you just
can't help be struck by the kind of split screen that Bibi Netanyahu and Benny Gantz are quickly forming a unity government to deal with the crisis.
But the House Republicans can't unify around their own individual. And perhaps that is the difference in part about actually being pulled into a
war about your own country being under attack or about just being allied with a country that is at war.
TALEV: But if they don't get this together, it could weaken House Republicans and Republicans ahead of the 2024 election.
HUNT: Yes, sure could.
TALEV: We'll see.
HUNT: All right, Kevin Madden, Kate Bedingfield, Margaret Talev, thank you for joining us, really appreciate it. Coming up, Gaza is reeling from
Israeli airstrikes. We'll have more on the immense toll the worst taking on the people there.
HUNT: Welcome back. The Palestinian health ministry says Israeli attacks in Gaza have killed more than 1000 people, more than 5000 have been injured.
And now health officials say that hospitals will run out of fuel to run their generators on Thursday. CNN Senior International Correspondent Ben
Wedeman has more on the destruction and the human toll.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Gaza City neighborhood once known as Al Rimal, the sands reduced to ashes. Its
residents retrieve what they can which isn't much. Israel continues to pound the strip targeting it says Hamas infrastructure. Residents in shock
are asking why.
I got married this year says Yahya Al-Ahwal what did I do? What have we done? You destroyed an entire neighborhood. He says he never fired a
rocket. In this one of the most densely populated patches of land on Earth, bombs crashing into crowded neighborhoods rarely differentiate between
fighter and civilian.
The death toll rises by the hour. Well, Gaza's hospitals are overwhelmed with the wounded including infants. Around 40 percent of the population of
Gaza is under the age of 15 according to the CIA. The Information minister in Gaza reports that nearly 170 buildings have been destroyed and more than
12,000 residents is damaged. Tens of thousands have fled their homes seeking refuge in U.N. schools converted into shelters.
An oven in this bakery in Gaza City is shut down many of the shelves empty. Life here was already difficult. And now the future looks bleaker than
ever. Gaza will take five years to raise its head after this says Wahiba Sirsawi. And after five years, there'll be two or three more wars. It's a
And amidst all this somewhere in Gaza, Hamas knows where more than 100 Israeli captives' fates unknown are. Tuesday afternoon Israel struck Gaza's
only port used principally by fishermen. While at the same time Hamas unleashed a massive volley of rockets toward Ashkelon. The abyss
approaches. Ben Wedeman CNN, Jerusalem.
HUNT: I'm Kasie Hunt. CNN coverage continues with Zain Asher and Bianna Golodryga after a quick break, stay with us.