Return to Transcripts main page


California Primary Today; Lava Threatens Residents; Anniversary of RFK's Shooting; Tim Cook on Phone Use. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired June 5, 2018 - 08:30   ET



[08:30:05] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It is a huge political day. Primaries in eight states, including California. And is California that could make or break Democrat dreams of taking back the House. The election rules there, though, in crowded fields giving Democrats major headaches.

CNN's Miguel Marquez live in Huntington Beach, California.

Good morning, Miguel.


Eight states indeed going to the polls today in those primary elections. And Democrats hope to turn the House Democratic in November. But to do that, they will have to win in places like this, Orange County, California. And California has a very unique primary system here. It's a jungle primary where only the top two advance regardless of parties. So an open primary system. And the problem Democrats have here, while they have great support, they may suffer from too much enthusiasm.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you with me?


MARQUEZ (voice over): California Democrats --


MARQUEZ: Buoyant, counting on a November blue wave and flipping several congressional seats here from Republicans to Democratic.

MARQUEZ (on camera): If a Democrat is on the ballot in November, what happens?

GIL CISNEROS, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE, CA 39: I think if a Democrat is on the ballot in November, a Democrat wins.

MARQUEZ (voice over): But California has a jungle primary, meaning only the top two vote getters, regardless of party, advance to the general election in November.

MARIAN BODNAR, INDIVISIBLE, CA 39: The fear is just that the vote gets so split that no Democrat beats a Republican.

MARQUEZ: In Orange County and adjacent, an astounding 45 candidates are running for just three seats. So many are well-funded, well- organized Democrats raising the prospect the Democratic vote could be split so much that only Republicans would then advance to the November ballot.

MARQUEZ (on camera): You were running in this district. Why did you drop out?

PHIL JANOWICZ, FORMER CANDIDATE, CA 39: I dropped out because we had too many candidates running at the time.

LAURA OATMAN, FORMER CANDIDATE, CA 48: I withdrew from the race. And not only withdrew from the race, but decided to get behind the strongest candidate who I believe can win.

MARQUEZ (voice over): Janowicz and Oatman are two of nine Democrats withdrawing from the three races hoping to narrow the field and improve the chances of the remaining 15 Democratic candidates.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Democrats and Harley Rouda moving us forward.

MARQUEZ: And national Democrats, the DCCC, weighing in, spending millions in advertising in English and Spanish, a rarely used tactic as they try to ensure a Democrat is on the ballot in every race come November.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: DCCC is responsible for the content of this advertising.

MARQUEZ: So worried, national Democrats are even running attack ads against some Republican candidates in all three districts, trying to dampen Republican turnout by criticizing GOP candidates from voting, like Democrats.

HARLEY ROUDA, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE, CA 48: We're going to have a tough primary on June 5th.

MARQUEZ: Harley Rouda in California 48 is in a unique category, winning support from both the establishment DCCC and activist groups like Indivisible.

ROUDA: All the different aspects of the party are getting behind this campaign and hopefully that will propel us to the general.

Thank you.

MARQUEZ: Democrats here will need more than hope.

CISNEROS: I hope that we can count on your vote on June 5th.

MARQUEZ: Gil Cisneros in the 39th is banking on enormous Democratic turnout to make the difference on primary day.

CISNEROS: If we can get those Democrats out to vote and I think it's going to carry over. I think we're going to see good results.

MARQUEZ: Maybe. Absentee ballots in the three Orange County districts so far show more Republicans than Democrats voting.


MARQUEZ: So, will they vote? That is the big question. We know that those absentee and mail-in ballots are up over 2014. They are down from 2016. And typically, in a primary off year election like we have today, Democrats don't turn up in big numbers. That may spell trouble for them.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Miguel, this is fascinating. It'll be fascinating to watch the outcome here. Thank you very much for setting all of that up for us.

MARQUEZ: Indeed.

CAMEROTA: OK, so at least 117 homes have now been destroyed by the fast moving lava from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's big island. So residents are being warned about that potential deadly mix that we've told you about of lava and haze that pollute the air.

And CNN's Scott McLean is live in Hilo with more.

What's the situation, Scott?


Well, over the past month there have been nearly 10,000 earthquakes around the Kilauea volcano. But for most of the people who live in that area, an earthquake is really the least of their worries. There is a stream of molten lava tearing across part of this island. You mentioned well over 100 homes have been destroyed already. And that number is likely to rise quickly.

[08:35:02] (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCLEAN (voice over): Helicopters search overhead looking for anyone stranded in the latest area in the path of lava from the Kilauea volcano. Four people were airlifted out of the area over the weekend. Most others had left long ago.

From the water, it's easy to see where lava had started to hit the ocean.

MCLEAN (on camera): That is unreal. Can you see that?

MCLEAN (voice over): Violent explosions turned to pure white smoke, called laze, potentially a deadly mixture of gas, steam and tiny bits of glass. The entire lava flow is a half mile wide with hundreds of homes in its

path caught between the lava and its final destination, right here in the Pacific.

From the air, video from the U.S. Geological Survey shows the lava's path, as smoke billows overhead, cutting a path through homes and neighborhoods. The darker smoke, burning homes that had already fallen prey. The lighter smoke is laze.

MCLEAN: Even from where we are, about seven or eight miles away, you can see that massive fissure in the distance that has created this massive flow of lava that has stretched for miles all the way down to the ocean.

MCLEAN (voice over): On land, the flames from the lava reducing homes to charred remains. This video shows the power of the volcano felt by people like Luana Jones, who lost her home last week further inland. The unforgiving lava swallowing anything it touches.

LUANA JONES, LOST HOME TO VOLCANO: There was love there, you know, and I kissed my house good-bye when I left. I really did. You could feel -- you could feel the love in the walls.

MCLEAN: The home, where she used to entertain and raise her family, engulfed in flames. But Jones says her faith and community will survive.

JONES: It's just a house. Yes, it's just a house. We can rebuild the house. But our home is Puna.

MCLEAN: But the geography of this island paradise will be changed forever as mother nature continues to run its course.

MCLEAN (on camera): You can't see it through the smoke, but there's actually a bay behind there maybe a couple hundred yards deep. As the lava enters the ocean, it builds up and, before Kilauea is all said and done, that bay may be entirely filled in.


MCLEAN: Now, authorities don't have a good estimate on the number of people who are stranded because they chose to stay in the isolated area just south of where the lava is hitting the ocean. We're talking about an area that is a couple of miles wide surrounded on two sides by molten lava and the Pacific Ocean on the other two. It is only a voluntary evacuation order in that area because it's not necessarily dangerous to be in there, but it is definitely miserable. There's no power, there's no water and there's no phone service. And because of the lack of communications, helicopters have been flying over regularly looking for any signs of distress, John.

BERMAN: All right, Scott. Scott McLean for us in Hilo. Thanks so much, Scott.

Fifty years ago today, Senator Robert F. Kennedy was shot in California. Such an indelible moment in history. What would have happened had this moment turned out differently? His one-time speech writer Jeff Greenfield joins us next.


[08:42:02] BERMAN: June 5, 1968, 50 years ago today, Senator Robert F. Kennedy was shot in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. He died a day later. Kennedy had just won the California presidential primary. This was a moment that changed history.

Author and journalist Jeff Greenfield worked for Senator Kennedy as a speech writer, was in the Ambassador Hotel the night of that shooting. And he has a new piece in "The Daily Beast," "How RFK Could Have Become President."

Jeff, it's great to have you here with us. Thanks so much.


BERMAN: Before we get to the article, which is like cat nip for a political junkie, I just want to ask, you know, what was that moment like to be in the Ambassador Hotel, to be lifted from the heights of the win of the California primary to ultimately what happened?

JEFF GREENFIELD, AUTHOR AND JOURNALIST: It was just as you describe it and it was in an instant. We were gathered in the -- on the fifth floor in the living room of his suite, staffers, supporters, just watched him in that ebullient, almost joyous proclamation of victory. And, literally, within a minute, the television screen shifted to the chaos and there was this just total stunned -- you know, I don't -- see, I don't even have the words 50 years later.

BERMAN: Right.

GREENFIELD: It was just that moment from joy to complete grief and sorrow.

BERMAN: For so many of us who have grown up after that looking at these pictures, you sort of live under the assumption, well, Kennedy had just won the California primary. Of course he was going to go on to Chicago, as he said, and wrap up the Democratic nomination. But this wonderful piece you wrote in "The Daily Beast" sort of says, not so fast. Remind us of what challenges existed had this horrible event never happened?

GREENFIELD: Well, you have to go back half a century and realize that the political terrain and the rules were totally different. Most delegates weren't picked in primaries. They were under the control of party leaders, or bosses, most of whom in the big states were going to support Vice President Humphrey, as they would have supported Lyndon Johnson. That's who they were.

And so once California was over and then a kind of a weird primary in New York two weeks later, there was no more turf where you could actually win votes. So the question was, how could Robert Kennedy then persuade, push, if you will, or as CBS News (INAUDIBLE) Roger Mudd put it, squeeze the delegates to move away from their establishment choice and go with Bobby. And the idea was, go all over the country, draw enormous crowds and have them, back in their home states, tell the Democratic leaders, this is the guy. And the second part was, assuming someone like Chicago Mayor Richard Daley would have endorsed Bobby Kennedy, which seems probable now, he would have been a signal to other leaders, look, we got to pick a guy who can beat Richard Nixon, and Robert Kennedy's that guy. But it would have been tough.

BERMAN: A couple of things that you bring up in this article which are so fascinating. Would RFK have ever accepted the number two slot? Would he have ever run as vice president?

GREENFIELD: Well, this is something that his de facto campaign manager, Fred Dutton, said to me just a couple of days before the primary, he was somewhat pessimistic about the nomination. He said, well, you know, if he's offered the nomination with Hubert Humphrey, he'll take it. And I said, well, we've been running against this guy and his policies. And Fred Dutton said, look, Bobby is a Roman, he'll go where the power is. That was his point of view.

[08:45:20] One thing you can -- you can sort of speculate, if you want to play this out, is if Robert Kennedy were alive and competing, would Richard Nixon have chosen Spiro Agnew or would he have chosen someone more like Kennedy, like New York Mayor John Lindsay. I mean the wheels that keep turning about alternate histories are almost endless.

BERMAN: Sure. And you bring up Nixon. But another key player in this would have been Lyndon Baines Johnson and Jay Edgar Hoover. You know two foes, two just giant political enemies of Robert Kennedy. And you suggested that maybe, just maybe, he would have been able to neutralize them. How?

GREENFIELD: Well, this is the -- I devoted a part of a whole book to this where you're able to just do fiction. But it's possible that, you know, maybe the Kennedy forces had information on J. Edgar Hoover and his life that would have been embarrassing to Hoover. Maybe they knew about how Lyndon Johnson became a multi-millionaire on the government payroll.

But I still think that if you look back on history and if Robert Kennedy survives, the opposition of a sitting Democratic president and the FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover, still would have been enormously difficult obstacles to overcome.

BERMAN: Lastly, Jeff, you know, what are the lesson that's Robert Kennedy could perhaps teach the Democrats going forward right now? This is a guy who made a famous trip to Appalachia and yet who was just mobbed wherever he went in the cities.

GREENFIELD: Yes, 50 years is a long time to try to tease out the politics. But one thing is clear, even back in '68, the coalition of Democrats, blacks, Hispanics, white working class was fracturing. It had been going on for years, not just in the south, but in the big cities. And in the last weeks of the campaign, Robert Kennedy was looking very hard for, how do you keep the coalition together? He was tilting toward a kind of liberal populist message about rich folks not paying their fair share of taxes. There's no way to know whether he could have held that coalition together. But I think what we saw in 2016, the complete collapse of that coalition, the wholesale desertion of the white working class away from Democrats is an indication of what Robert Kennedy was trying to say about we've got to heal these divisions. And that lesson, I think, still resonates even across half a century.

BERMAN: Jeff Greenfield, an honor to get to speak to you about this. Thanks so much.

GREENFIELD: Good luck to you, John.

BERMAN: Appreciate it.


CAMEROTA: So, does Apple CEO Tim Cook want us all to be addicted to our iPhones or not?


TIM COOK, APPLE CEO: If they're picking up their phone ten times an hour or 20 times an hour, maybe they could -- maybe they could do it less.


CAMEROTA: Hmm, that and more in a CNN exclusive, next.


[08:52:02] CAMEROTA: So Apple CEO Tim Cook is speaking out in a CNN exclusive about the tech company's new tool to cut down on phone addiction, as John checks his phone right next to me and I'm not kidding, and also reveals his own tech habits.

CNN's Laurie Segall is live in San Jose, California, with the exclusive interview.

I would think he would want us to be addicted to our phones.

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think that's the whole problem. I think there's this moment in time where we're all addicted and we all kind of know it. And I think it's something that the tech companies have to address.

So you have this developer's conference where 5,000 developers come here. They're trying to create these tools that will get us to pick up our phone more. And you have the CEO of Apple announcing a tool called Screen Time that the idea is to help us use our phone less. And essentially he could show us how many minutes -- or I guess I would say in my case hours who are on our phone and give us some limits.

I sat down with Tim and I spoke to him exclusively. Take a listen.


SEGALL: You guys announced a tech addiction tool that will almost help us limit our screen time. So what's the thinking behind that?

TIM COOK, CEO, APPLE: Well, you know, we've never been focused on usage as a key parameter. We want people to be incredibly satisfied and empowered by our -- the device that's we show. But we've never wanted people to spend a lot of time on them or all of their time on them.

And, you know, it's a personal thing as to how much is too much. We thought a lot about this. And we're rolling out great tools to both make people aware of how much time they're spending and the apps that they're spending them, but also how many times they pick up their phone, how many notifications they get, who is sending them the notifications.

SEGALL: So, tell me about your own tech habits. Live and learn.

COOK: Yes, I've been using it and I have to tell you, I thought I was fairly disciplined about this, and I was wrong. When I began to get the data, I found I was spending a lot more time than I should.

SEGALL: Like where?

COOK: And -- well, I don't want to give you all the apps, but just too much. And the number of times I picked up the phone were too many.

SEGALL: What do you tell people who are worried they're addicted to their smartphones, who are worried about text impact on children?

COOK: I thin, ultimately, each person has to make the decision when they get their numbers as to what they would like to do. And I encourage everyone to look and everyone to make an informed decision and ask themselves if they're picking up their phone ten times an hour or 20 times an hour, maybe they could -- maybe they could do it less.

But I think the power is now shifted to the user. And that has been what Apple has always been about is giving the power from the institution to the user.

SEGALL: Still interesting because there's this idea, who's in control, man or machine? You believe that we, as human beings, we can control --

COOK: I absolutely do. I don't subscribe to the machines taking over the world. (INAUDIBLE) worry about that. I worry much more about people thinking like machines --

[08:55:06] SEGALL: What do you mean?

COOK: Than machines thinking like people.

SEGALL: That's interesting. What do you mean?

COOK: I mean forgetting the humanity in things. Forgetting that our -- all of our products should be infused with humanity.

SEGALL: I get the sense that that feels very personal to you, what you just said.

COOK: It does.


COOK: Because it's the reason I'm on the face of the earth. It makes it really person, right, that this is -- this is the role I play.


SEGALL: You know, it's certainly an interesting moment in technology because I think over the last year -- and we've spoken about this on your show -- you know, we're looking at some of the negative impact. We look at the weaponization of social networks. We look at tech addiction. So we're seeing these CEOs address this.

I also asked him about privacy. And he told me, you know, privacy is a fundamental human right but it's under attack. And there's a lot we have to do. They also announced, you know, these tracking tools that would allow you to block FaceBook from tracking you on safari. So another swipe at FaceBook.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out and if we can, you know, control our habits a little bit better on our smartphones. I know that's something I've got to work on.

Alisyn. John.

CAMEROTA: As we all do.

BERMAN: Yes, Apple actually sent us custom emojis. I will share Alisyn's on my Twitter account. She's not on social media, so I have the power.

CAMEROTA: OK, and I'll share mine -- I'll share John's on my Instagram.

But, Laurie, thanks for doing that. Our custom emoji are so great. Mine looks like this --

BERMAN: All right, Laurie, thank you so much.

SEGALL: That's great. Absolutely.

BERMAN: CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow and Brianna Keilar right after a quick break.