Return to Transcripts main page

NEW DAY SATURDAY

Nine Aid Workers Killed In Suspected U.S. Airstrike; Historic Dangerous Flooding On East Coast; Obama Warns Putin About Airstrikes; Oregon College Shooter a Student in Class He Attacked; Search Underway for Lost U.S. Cargo Ship; White House Hopefuls Respond to Gun Issue. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired October 3, 2015 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: He is currently an assistant coach at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. That school has placed him on paid administrative leave during this investigation. We'll stay on top of this story as it progresses, guys. VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Coy, thank you.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We have so much more to tell you about this morning.

BLACKWELL: Next hour of your NEW DAY starts right now.

Breaking overnight, the death toll rises after suspected U.S. airstrikes hit a hospital in Afghanistan filled with dozens of patients and staff.

PAUL: And new details for you regarding the weapons used by the shooter who gunned down nine people in Oregon. How the battle over gun control could affect the race for the White House.

BLACKWELL: Also, a frosty relationship turns even icier. President Obama accuses President Putin of acting out of weakness are not strength, as Russia pounds targets in Syria.

PAUL: And despite all of that, we do want to wish you good morning and tell you we are so grateful to have you with us as always. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Always good to be with you on a Saturday.

PAUL: Let's talk about this breaking news that we've been watching this morning involving U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan. Nine staff workers of Doctors Without Borders are dead. At least 37 people are injured. U.S. airstrikes rocked a trauma center in the northern city of Kunduz there.

And that is what caused all of this, we're learning. I want to share some of the pictures we're getting in this morning. 105 people, patients and staff we've learned was here, you see, at the time of the airstrikes. You see the burnt-out buildings with the stains of smoke on the windows as well as smoke actually still billowing through the rooftop. Inside, it's destroyed. The flames engulfed this hospital overnight where it was bomb repeatedly we're told.

BLACKWELL: Now, doctors are scrambling to treat the injured in a makeshift triage. Doctors Without Borders released this statement, "We are deeply shocked by the attack, the killing of our staff and the patients and the heavy toll it has inflicted on health care Kunduz."

Sune Engel Rasmussen is a reporter for "The Guardian" in Kabul. Sune, thank you so much for being with us. We know the U.S. military is saying, and I want to quote to make sure I get it right.

"The air strikes may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility." The reports that there was bombing and that bombing continued more than 30 minutes after officials in Washington and Kabul were informed what was happening. What are you hearing about the time line here?

SUNE ENGEL RASMUSSEN, REPORTER FOR "THE GUARDIAN" IN KABUL: That's what I'm hearing as well not only that the bombing continued for 30 minutes after officials were made aware that the attack was going on.

But they shared the exact GPS coordinates of their hospital with Afghan authorities and U.S. military and with NATO. That's also the story here. The U.S. military as they confirm that they conducted an air strike here and might have caused collateral damage, as they say.

But we don't have any other indications, any other airstrikes and all officials in Kunduz say that this was an American airstrike. We are still waiting for further comments from the U.S. military. They haven't released anything since early this morning saying they are still investigating the incident.

PAUL: We know the U.S. embassy in Kabul did release a statement. I want to read that to you. "The U.S. Embassy mourns for the individuals and families affected by the tragic incident at the Doctors Without Borders hospital, and for all those suffering from the violence in Kunduz."

You said there is certainly an investigation going on right now, but we understand the staff, as we've located, the fighting in that area is still active. In fact, the fighting was right near the gates of this hospital. What you can tell us about what's happening there this morning?

RASMUSSEN: Yes, fighting was heavy last night before the airstrike in this particular area of Kunduz was reportedly on control. And we're hearing the fighting after the city as well. And those ten international staff working, they've all been evacuated to Kabul and are now safe here in the capital.

And critically injured patients have been transported to a different province, two hours by roadway. There still is staff in Kunduz because it's unclear how much they can actually do at the hospital right now.

PAUL: All right, Sune Engle Rasmussen, we so appreciate the update. Thank you so much.

[08:05:02] BLACKWELL: Earlier, I spoke with CNN military analyst, Retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling to try to understand how this might have happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING (RETIRED), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It is under investigation. It proves how critically important precision weaponry is. And why some people who just claim we should go bomb things are uninformed about how the tragic occurrence like this might happen.

First of all, my condolences to all those Doctors Without Borders. This is a terrific organization. It's been all over the world and in Afghanistan for at least the early 1980s. But the criticality of this when you say it's under investigation, it could have been just the fluid nature of combat.

There have been -- in fact, Doctors Without Borders on their web page earlier this week said they were right in the middle of the conflict between the Taliban and the Afghan security forces. They claim they were right there. So that leaves a little space to this, the fact that it's just up to fight in these kind of areas and people get hurt.

Secondly, precision weapons aren't always precise. When you think of this being equivalent to a videogame, it is not. Sometimes these weapon systems miss their targets and that could have been the cause for this.

There is always also the reason of did we know exactly where they were? I kind of chuckled when I heard Nic Robertson say they notified the U.S. and Kabul government 30 minutes prior to the attack they were there. The bombings still continue. You just don't turn these things on and off when accidents happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: I want to bring in CNN international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, to kind of fill out the picture of why this city of Kunduz is so strategically important?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It's important to the Taliban in many ways. We know that they're strong in the south and the east of the country. That's where NATO and U.S. forces have been battling for so long. They've been trying to stretch their control and influence throughout the country.

They've been doing it that over the past couple years. They've established themselves north of the city of Kunduz, in that province, over the last six months. This is the first major city that they've taken in Afghanistan. It's symbolic to them because it was the last one that they lost in 2001 so it has symbolic importance. It's important because it's a big morale blow for the government, for the Taliban for that reason. It's an economically, reasonably prosperous province. It's important for that reason. It's a strategic highway that links Afghanistan to the north.

But most of all for the Taliban and their new leader, Al Mansour, shows that they can act with sort of strategic direction. They've been pushing towards this city for the last six months that they can act with large number of forces.

We're told several hundred Taliban were involved in taking it over. All of those reasons, this is the culmination of a lot of things happening over the last several years and of course, a blow for the government.

BLACKWELL: Yes, and the Taliban calling this one of their largest victories in 15 years or so. Nic Robertson for us. Nic, thanks so much.

PAUL: We're live in South Carolina next, as all the folks there and really along the east coast, I know you're bracing for what could be record rainfall this weekend. The worst that -- gosh, you could have seen in the last 10 or 25 years.

Also, there's a mystery off the coast of the Bahamas this morning. There's this ship, its crew, the ship itself, all mysteriously disappeared after sailing into the Hurricane Joaquin. We'll have a live report for you.

BLACKWELL: And the U.S. president accuses his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin of acting out of weakness as bombs drop over Syria.

PAUL: Also, a heroic stand, how a victim of the Oregon college shooting was hit multiple times confronting the gunman, look at this, survived.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:12:43]

BLACKWELL: People up and down the east coast are getting slammed by record rain. Look at this. And it could lead to dangerous and historic flooding. More than what we've seen already.

PAUL: I was going to say, we've seen some dangerous flooding already. But Hurricane Joaquin is to blame even though it's not on track to make landfall in the U.S. For those of you in the Carolinas we know you've been hit particularly hard, streets and homes.

Look at the pictures we are getting in, flooded. Police and firefighters being called out constantly to rescue people from high water and it's not an easy job.

CNN's Nick Valencia is live in Charleston. I can hear the rain, Nick. The governor there we understand warning people this could be the worst flooding they've seen in decades. Help us understand what it's like there right now.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, just in 30 seconds, Christi, we've seen it pick up and part of it is this massive rainstorm along the east coast, anchoring 30 million Americans up and down the east coast. To check out what we're dealing with here, you see here, high tide expecting it to be eight or nine feet.

A man in a fishing boat is not adhering to the guidance of the governor at that press conference yesterday. Governor Nikki Haley saying that this is a historic rain event saying that the state has never before seen rain like this.

Over the next three days, South Carolina could see specifically up to 20 inches of rain over the course of the next three days. Columbia, South Carolina, expected to be the hardest hit, but of course, right here in Charleston, along the gulf coast, the problem here, flash flooding.

We were under a flash flood. Coastal flood advisory still in effect. This normally is a very busy water front pier, tourists, locals, and the like. The governor and residents are to stay indoors, shelter in place.

Get all of their essential groceries that they need because this is going to be a long weekend for everybody along the east coast -- Christi, Victor.

PAUL: And a long weekend for Nick Valencia as he stands out in it, newly married.

BLACKWELL: Congratulations to Nick.

PAUL: Congratulations to Nick, and now you're out in the thick of all of that.

BLACKWELL: He's got the mic in the produce bag. You know it's serious they put the microphone in the bag they put the lemons in.

PAUL: You guys take care of each other out there. Thank you, Nick.

[08:15:07] Some areas could see up to 15 inches of rain though.

BLACKWELL: Yes, this is serious. CNN's meteorologist, Allison Chinchar has been watching all that's happening here, and 15 inches, that's unbelievable.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is, actually, believe it or not, 7:30 this morning, they have broken the daily rainfall record for today. Again, at 7:30 in the morning, and we've got all the rest of the day to go. Yes, they're very likely to get 10 to 15 inches of rain in Charleston, but that's not the only city we need to be careful about.

Charleston the reason they are kind of area that we've been talking about because they sit so low and they have a couple of other factors. We've got the area of low pressure, what that's doing it, spinning it that wind is blowing, pushing that surge through the city of Charleston.

More importantly, it becomes a funnel. It funnels straight into the Charleston harbor. That causes backup it's in city, along the two rivers that are side by side for the city of Charleston. We just found out they have rescues going on in downtown Charleston.

Unfortunately, that is only expected to get worse because high tide is expected at 1:00 this afternoon. That's going to help push that water farther into the city of Charleston. They'll get another high tide overnight this evening.

Radar estimates from Charleston, Wilmington out to the outer banks, we're expecting 4 inches to 6 inches. We've got flood watches out for much of the state of North Carolina and South Carolina.

But again, the big concern is going to be the total rain amounts as that plume begins to fill up. Again, we're talking in some areas 10 to 15 inches of rain, Christi and Victor. Again, it's going to be a lot in a very short amount of time.

BLACKWELL: Allison Chinchar, thanks.

Hurricane Joaquin coverage continues. A ship and its crew have disappeared after sailing into the fury of this hurricane. We'll have a live report in the show.

Also, President Obama says he doesn't want America drawn into a proxy war with Russia over Syria. We'll discuss whether the president has a choice here. What can he do? What will he do?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:20:51]

BLACKWELL: Russian officials say they've destroyed multiple ISIS command centers and ammunition depots in the last 24 hours. We have new video showing one of this morning's airstrikes. There it is.

Defense Ministry says they've launched 20 since Friday. And this comes as President Obama warns Russian President Vladimir Putin about his air campaign in Syria, saying it will only lead to further bloodshed.

CNN's Chris Frates is live in Washington with the latest for us. Chris, good morning.

CHRIS FRATES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Victor. President Obama came out swinging yesterday against critics of his Syrian policy, who had suggested that Russia now has the upper hand there.

Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin began bombing what Russia says were Islamic State terrorist in Syria, but President Obama says that's not true arguing that Russia is bombing ISIS and Syrian rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Mr. Putin had to go into Syria not out of strength, but out of weakness, because his client, Mr. Assad, was crumbling. And it was insufficient for him, simply, to send them arms and money, now, he's got to put if his own planes and his own pilots.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FRATES: So, Obama predicted that Russia's strategy is going to leave that country mired in a quagmire. What's more, the president said that he's not going to turn Syria into a conflict that is between Russia and the United States.

He painted the war as between Assad, Russia and Iran on the one side and the majority of Syrians who want Assad removed from power on the other.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We're not going to make Syria into a proxy war between the United States and Russia. That would be bad strategy on our part. This is not some, you know, super power chess board contest. And anybody who frames it in that way isn't paying very close attention to what's been happening on the chess board.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FRATES: The United States, Obama said, is only concerned with fighting ISIS and ending that civil war in Syria. And for that to happen, the president said Assad has got to go -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, we'll see if the strategy shifts now that there are more players in the region. Chris Frates, thank you so much -- Christi.

PAUL: Let's go to Philip Mudd now. He's a CNN counterterrorism analyst and former CIA counterterrorism official. Phil, thank you for being with us.

I'm wondering what is the payoff for Russia here? Are they just wanting to get the U.S. out of the Middle East? Are they just trying, perhaps, to expand their territory or their influence? What's your take?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I think there are a couple pieces here. There's a little picture and the big picture. The small picture is, look, we're talking about not only Russia but the United States concerned that ISIS will take over Syria. ISIS has been fairly successful in the past months of this year.

I think the Russians made a simple calculation. We can't afford to let that happen particularly since Russia has a couple thousand of its own citizens there and they've historically had problems in recent years with Islamic extremism. The big picture, though, is go to Crimea, go to Ukraine, go to the Moscow foreign policy of Vladimir Putin. Now he's got an alliance not only with Bashar Al Assad. As you know, he's got Iran and Iraq on his side as well.

I think this is Putin saying I'm trying to restore the Russian empire and here's one small piece of that strategy.

PAUL: If Russia is successful, let's say, at disseminating this rebel group that is fighting Assad, what does that mean for Syria?

MUDD: Look, I think there are a couple of questions here. One is you're talking about success in military terms, blunting the offensive by ISIS. I think the bigger question and nobody is talking about this, is whether Russia gains influence because they use their leverage over Assad to figure out some political solution.

The president of the United States has talked all along about getting Assad out. There's one country and it's not the United States that has the leverage to do that and that's Russia.

[08:25:01] I think the next step on this chess board is whether Russia matches military action with the slow efforts to get Assad out. I think there is a small chance for that.

PAUL: All right, Philip Mudd, we really appreciate your thoughts on this, always good to get your insight. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: We've got new developments in Oregon on the gunman's connection to that community college where that massacre happened this week. And the weapons he used to carry out that shooting.

Plus, how the debate on gun control is playing out on both sides of the political divide in the race for the White House.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: I want to share with you some new details we're learning this morning about the man who shot and killed nine people at a community college in the Pacific Northwest.

BLACKWELL: Yes. School officials are now confirming that the gunman was enrolled at the Umpqua Community College in the very class where he opened fire.

PAUL: We're also hearing new information about the firearms the shooter used to carry out this attack. Investigators say 13 weapons were linked to the gunman, all of them purchased legally.

Dan Simon is live in Roseburg following the story for us. Good morning, Dan. What have you learned?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Christi, Victor, this is a shooter who possessed an incredible amount of fire power at the school. Seven weapons were recovered. There were more weapons recovered at his house, 13 in all. This is somebody who is also wearing body armor. He was prepared for battle and took steps to protect himself.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: Dispatch as many ambulances as possible to this incident. We have upwards of 20 victims.

[08:30:00]

SIMON (voice-over): Chilling new details this morning in the Oregon college massacre. The gunman came heavily armed, prepared to kill as many as possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exchanging shots with him. He is in a classroom.

SIMON: Investigators say the gunman brought a steel-plated flak jacket, multiple pistols and a rifle.

CELINEZ NUNEZ, ATF, SEATTLE DIVISION: Six were recovered at the school. Seven were recovered at the shooter's residence, along with five magazines.

SIMON (voice-over): Nine were killed and nine others wounded when the 26-year old who attended the college walked into his own English classroom and opened fire.

In the middle of the rampage the gunman handed his writings to a survivor to give to police, according to sources. In those pages, the shooter rambled about his hatred toward black men and how he was frustrated about being a virgin, unable to find a girlfriend.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Somebody is outside one of the doors, shooting through the doors.

SIMON (voice-over): Why the shooter targeted Umpqua Community College is still unclear. He lived nearby in this apartment complex with his mother, who was reportedly fiercely protective of him. His family has been interviewed by investigators and CNN has learned the shooter suffered mental health issues and had sought relief.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shocked, shocked is all I can say.

SIMON (voice-over): Meanwhile, we are learning more about the victims of the shooting who range in age from 18 to 67. Among the dead, Lawrence Levine, an assistant professor of English; Quinn Glen Cooper, who loved dancing and voice acting and Lucero Alcaraz. She apparently wanted to become a pediatric nurse.

GOV. KATE BROWN, (D) OREGON: One person's deranged act may have indeed broken all of our hearts, but he cannot prevent our hearts from growing back bigger and stronger.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIMON: Well, the victims included five men and four women, their ages ranging from 18 to 67. At that emotional news conference yesterday the sheriff read off all the names.

And he also read some statements from the families, the family of Quinn Cooper saying, quote, "Our lives are shattered beyond repair. No one should ever feel the pain that we're feeling."

I think that pretty much captures the sentiment right now of this community -- Christi.

PAUL: To the community and everybody watching, certainly thoughts and prayers to all those folks. Dan Simon, we appreciate it. Thank you.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

BLACKWELL: We're following breaking news from Afghanistan, nine staff workers of Doctors without Borders killed there and 37 people injured. Those are the latest numbers after U.S. airstrikes rocked a trauma center in the northern city of Kunduz.

The U.S. military said the strike may have resulted in collateral damage to the nearby medical facility and they're investigating the incident. The first video now is in. Let's put it up, where you can see the damage from the airstrikes.

We've got on the phone with us -- there's the video. You see the charred building, maybe still the glow of the flames inside that trauma center.

On the phone, Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr with new information.

Barbara, what have you learned this morning?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: What we are learning, is that U.S. military officials are investigating the possibility it was a U.S. Air Force AC-130 gunship. It was in the area, firing at Taliban positions.

Now the AC-130 gunship is very precise. It has onboard guns; they aim straight at essentially enemy personnel positions. So it's very precise. It's able to stay up in the air quite a while.

There was an AC-130 in the area, according to military reports. And now they're investigating whether this is the aircraft that may -- may have been involved in the attack.

What they are telling us is that they fired against Taliban positions in order to protect U.S. Special Operations forces that were on the ground, advising Afghan forces; they were coming under attack from the Taliban. And so they were defending them.

But all of this, you know, obviously, very much under investigation as to what exactly happened. People on the ground are reporting that the fire, that the attack may have lasted as long as 30 minutes. That would suggest, perhaps, an AC-130 gunship rather than an

individual bomb, perhaps from a fighter jet overhead. So all under investigation by the U.S. military, by Afghan authorities and by the NATO-led coalition.

BLACKWELL: All right. So an important distinction, I just want to be clear here. We've talking about the investigation that's been launched.

The investigation is not into how this might have happened, but if this U.S. gunship is responsible for what happened overnight?

STARR: Well, they are investigating all parts, all elements of this situation, of this attack, because the U.S. military does not --

[08:35:00]

STARR: -- target hospitals. So they're investigating all of it to see how it happened, what was involved, what was used, why it was called in, where the Taliban may have been. We should add, the Taliban are very savvy operators, especially in Kunduz.

There have been reports for days that they have moved into civilian areas and are using them essentially as cover for their firing positions. And that's why Afghan troops are still, you know, trying, after many days, to dig out those Taliban from those final civilian positions. So all of this to be investigated, where the Taliban were.

Were they inside this hospital? Were they on the hospital grounds? Were they in a building next door? And were they, in fact, firing at the U.S. troops? Was this a mission of self-defense?

The previous airstrikes that have happened in Kunduz have all been, according to the U.S. military, to defend coalition and U.S. forces in the region that have been under attack by the Taliban. So all of this very much initial reports, very much still under investigation.

BLACKWELL: And we know at this stage in breaking news stories, especially in this type of theater, the early information is often very fluid. And we're hoping to get more information from Doctors without Borders, as they have reported several people are still unaccounted for.

Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr on the line for us.

Barbara, thank you so much.

PAUL: Also this morning, there's a mystery off the coast of the Bahamas. A ship and its crew disappeared after sailing into the fury of Hurricane Joaquin. We have a live report for you -- next.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [08:40:00]

(MUSIC PLAYING)

PAUL: Forty minutes past the hour. And happening right now, Coast Guard airplanes are set to resume searching for a U.S. cargo ship that disappeared after facing the full fury of Hurricane Joaquin; 33 people are aboard the El Faro, 28 of them are Americans.

On Thursday, the Coast Guard received a distress report from somewhere near the Crooked Islands in the Bahamas. This ship reportedly lost propulsion. It was taking on water. Now Joaquin was a category 3 storm at the time. It was pumping out sustained winds of 125 miles per hour.

So let's talk to Captain Mark Fedor from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Captain, thank you so much for being with us. I understand you've been using a cutter ship, a rescue helicopter, an airplane.

Are you already in the air, your crews, looking for the ship this morning and whereabouts are they focusing?

CAPT. MARK FEDOR, U.S. COAST GUARD: Yes, we're in the air this morning. We started at sunrise. So we have a C-130 Hercules aircraft and another one will be going up shortly to look.

This is really the first time today that we're able to get on scene with the vessel's last known position, because yesterday we weren't able to do that, due to the hurricane kind of sitting right over that position.

We're also using a helicopter to kind of scour some of the coastlines in those nearby Bahamian islands to see if anything washed up onshore there.

PAUL: I understand that this plane you're using, the Hercules, flew as low as 2,000 feet yesterday; regularly it's about 10,000 feet for such a storm.

Were you surprised at being able to fly that low they weren't able to see anything from this ship?

FEDOR: Right. Normally, the Air Force hunter aircraft fly at 10,000 feet. But we knew that we were going to have to send our Coast Guard aircraft lower if we had any hopes of seeing anything in the storm. So that's why we pushed them down to 2,000 feet.

They are using a sophisticated surface search radar system so we're disappointed that we didn't see anything but we also acknowledge that the conditions near that storm were horrific yesterday.

I mean, wind, thunderstorms, the sea spray everywhere, it was difficult to see anything. So we're hopeful today we'll be able to see some signs of that vessel or survivors.

PAUL: OK, two things here. We understand that it was taking on water at that last call but that the flooding had been contained.

Can containment be sustained when a ship of this size is in a hurricane?

And secondly, there are theories that perhaps it was dragged northward with that storm.

How does that theory drive your search?

FEDOR: Right, so for the first question regarding containing the flooding, every ship is trained to contain flooding. As long as you isolate that flooding and it's not going throughout the ship, you can maintain that.

The challenge for them is they had no propulsion. So they had that water inside, they had a little bit of a list, meaning they were leaning over. And they were just very vulnerable to all the waves and everything going on. So a very dangerous situation for them.

We have, in our search planning efforts today, we are taking into account that when they were in the eye of the storm essentially yesterday, they were probably getting pushed to the west because the predominant winds were pushing them that way.

We're also taking into account now the environmental conditions that, as the storm moves north, so could the ship. It could be moving along with it. So we're going to take that into account through all our search planning efforts today.

PAUL: All right. Captain Mark Fedor, so appreciate you getting back with us today. And best of luck to you and the crews there as they're trying to figure out what happened. Hopefully they can find this crew. We appreciate it, thank you, sir.

FEDOR: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Well, after this tragedy in Oregon, we are now hearing from White House hopefuls this morning. They're talking about the president's new calls for expanded gun control legislation.

Next, you're going to hear where several of the GOP and Democratic candidates stand on this issue. And you might find some of this to be surprising.

PAUL: And we had a Facebook -- we have a Facebook exclusive for you here. This remarkable act of kindness, that a plane full of people were no doubt happy about it. I spoke with the mom of an inconsolable child who was stuck on a plane. And that woman on the left essentially came to her rescue in a really unique way. She calls her her flight angel.

This has gone viral online.

Could you be a flight angel in that situation? Go to facebook.com/newday, check out the story and then share your thoughts with us. Like our page while you're three as well. But we'd love to hear your insight.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:45:00]

PAUL: Well, the tragic shooting in Oregon has prompted new calls from the president on gun control, President Obama vowing to talk about the issue on, quote, "a regular basis."

BLACKWELL: Yes, and now GOP presidential candidates are firing back at the president for, in their words, "politicizing" this massacre. The White House hopefuls are either calling for renewed enforcement of current laws of just examining mental health issues.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEB BUSH, FORMER GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: I had this challenge as governor because we have -- look, stuff happens. There's always a crisis. And the impulse is always to do something and it's not necessarily the right thing to do.

DR. BEN CARSON, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We should be looking at all of the incidents where we have these people who go out and commit these horrendous crimes, to find out as much as we can about what type of person does this because we need early warnings so that we can begin to intervene.

CARLY FIORINA (R), CALIF.: So before we start calling for more laws, I think we ought to consider why we don't enforce the laws we have. And I think we need to know a little bit more about this incident.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: All right. So let's talk, we have with us Democratic strategist Maria Cardona and Republican strategist Lisa Boothe.

Good to have both of you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning, Victor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Victor, good morning.

BLACKWELL: Hey, Lisa, I want to start with you and Jeb Bush and the criticism that he's receiving. More of that comment that we heard, he talked not about just Oregon but his time as governor of Florida and that there were other shootings and he said, "Stuff happens."

Is this is a huge gaffe for his campaign or is this something else?

LISA BOOTHE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think he absolutely should have said something different. I mean, this is absolutely a horrific tragedy and our hearts are with the families in Roseburg, Oregon. But I think it's important to --

[08:50:00]

BOOTHE: -- point out something here, President Obama is having an intellectually dishonest conversation with the American people. And quite frankly I think it's wrong for him to try to score political points at a time of tragedy. He went out and made comments about the shooting prior to actually having any real information about the circumstances of the shooting.

Let's look at the facts right now, as far as guns in America. The FBI every year does 22 million background checks. We have over 20,000 federal and state laws on the books. And these common sense gun reform proposals that President Obama and other Democrats are talking about would have done nothing to have prevented this shooting.

We know that the shooter -- a state like Oregon has universal background checks. But this -- the shooter was able to obtain those guns legally.

If you look at the shooting in Virginia. The shooter there was able to obtain -- passed a background check and obtained the gun legally. The same instance in Charleston. If you look at the instance of Sandy Hook, the shooter actually did not pass the background check but stole the guns.

These criminals are law breakers by definition. So adding more laws to the books when we aren't following our current laws is not going to prevent them from getting guns and committing acts of evil.

BLACKWELL: Maria, let me come to you, because in the question about adding guns and stricter gun laws, that was put to presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders. And some people unsatisfied with his answer. Listen to what he said on MSNBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VT.: We're all disgusted and horrified by these mass killings. And, as the president indicated, we're tired of sending condolences. And we know that it could happen tomorrow. It could happen again a month from now.

I have voted, as I said a moment ago, for what I think is the most important position and that is strong instant background checks to make sure that people who should not have guns do not have guns. And I have voted to eliminate this gun show loophole, which is what we've got to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: But he went on to say that you can sit there and say we can do this, we can do that, but you've got a whole lot of states in this country where people, virtually no gun control at all. We're going to have some success, we're going to have to start talking to each other.

But no suggestion any of stricter gun laws.

Is that going to hurt him moving forward?

MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think that what he's going to focus on, and frankly, a lot of Democrats, including Hillary Clinton have focused on, is that we should have stronger background checks in every state because the problem is, is that we don't have a uniform way to figure out who is buying these guns, how are they getting them why are they getting them, if they shouldn't have them, given their criminal records or perhaps, given the fact, that they are mentally ill.

The problem with what Republicans are talking about is that they don't want to do anything. They don't want even for the federal government to be able to look into the circumstances under which these guns are obtained, to look into having more records from gun owners, having more records from folks that are perhaps mentally ill.

And the problem is, if you don't do anything, these things are going to continue to happen. The fact of the matter is that the majority of Americans, including the majority of gun owners, do believe and do support having more stringent background checks in every state for people who are looking to buy guns.

And the president was absolutely right to politicize this because this is a political issue. When this is something that continues to happen and nobody wants to do anything, including elected leaders, because they feel like they're being held hostage by the NRA, it is absolutely the responsibility of people who want to be president and people who are looking to be leaders.

(CROSSTALK)

BLACKWELL: Lisa, let me come to you. Let me ask you this question, I want to get to specifically the candidates, Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson proposing here enforcing the laws that are already in place, while other -- medical background as well, a springboard to a discussion of medical health.

I mean, are we seeing that that is resonating? Because I want to keep this to the conversation of those who want to be the next president.

BOOTHE: Well, Victor, you're right, look, Carly Fiorina is absolutely right, look, we have 20,000 federal and state laws on the books and Maria is perpetuating the same intellectually dishonest conversation that Democrats are wanting to have, to push their anti- gun agenda in America.

The reality is the commonality that we continue to see with these shootings is a mental health issue. And also these are -- 92 percent of these shootings are happening in gun-free zones, as was the case in Oregon.

And the reality is in a lot of these in northeastern states, where these liberal Democrats are pushing for more stringent gun control law, these states aren't even turning over the records to the -- at the FBI next (ph) database that would prevent these individuals from obtaining guns such as --

[08:55:00]

(CROSSTALK)

BOOTHE: -- mental health issues. And that is a huge problem we are facing --

BLACKWELL: -- certainly has been that problem --

BOOTHE: -- they're pushing for universal background checks; what is that going to do?

CARDONA: Here's what it will do --

BOOTHE: -- if they don't have information in the first place?

BLACKWELL: Maria, I'll give you the last 15-20 seconds.

(CROSSTALK)

CARDONA: Here's what it'll do.

(CROSSTALK)

CARDONA: If you'll let me talk, I'll tell what you it will do.

BLACKWELL: Last 15.

CARDONA: What it will do is that it will bring every state under the same law because there is no reason why if, for example, in Washington, D.C., very stringent laws, but they can go over to Virginia and easily obtain -- and easily obtain a gun, bring it into Washington, D.C., and commit crimes.

So if you don't have -- if you don't have uniformity in the laws, they don't work.

(CROSSTALK)

BLACKWELL: We actually heard from Governor Cuomo -- (INAUDIBLE).

We heard from Governor Cuomo, and told Wolf Blitzer that he believes that in the laws that he passed in New York, that he closed the front door. But then guns started coming in through the back door.

So that is a continuation of the challenge from state to state.

Maria Cardona, Lisa Boothe, thank you very much.

An just a reminder, first Democratic presidential debate, you know this is going to come up, takes place one week from Tuesday, October 13th, 9:00 pm Eastern right here on CNN. Our thanks to Maria and Lisa. And we'll be right back.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)