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Future for GOP After McCain; Replacement for McCain; Gunman Kills Two at Video Game Tournament; Pope Remains Quite. Aired 6:30- 7:00a ET

Aired August 27, 2018 - 06:30   ET

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


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[06:33:04] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We owe each other our respect, as long as our character merits respect, and as long as we share, for all our differences, for all the rancorous debates that enliven and sometimes demean our politics, a mutual devotion to the ideal sour nation was conceived to uphold, that all are created equal and liberty and equal justice are the natural rights of all.

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JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: That's John McCain reading from his final book, "The Restless Wave." And he did, for the audio book, read a few chapters of that. And it's so wonderful to hear his voice. It's so much more meaningful to hear him speak the words that he writes about in that book. And I recommend that everyone get a copy of it, if they can. The senator calling for Americans to treat one another with respect. A call, I think, that is needed in the country right now.

What is the future of politics after John McCain? What's the future of the Republican Party after John McCain?

I want to bring back John Avlon, Max Boot and David Gregory.

And, David, I ask that question, but I have to say, I think the Republican Party, for some time, has been after John McCain, been post John McCain. I mean I think the Donald Trump Republican Party is the Republican Party moved on from Senator McCain.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think that's right. I mean look at immigration alone. I remember McCain having to run for re-election, I think -- I think it was in '12, you know, where he had to project a really tough stand against

immigration. He filled TV ads of him walking along the border, calling for beefed up security. And yet, as much of an ideologue, as much as he would vote with his party, he was also the one who, on an issue like that, could then lead by partisan consensus for push for immigration reform. He's the one who could push for reconciliation toward Vietnam because of his experience there. So he had the ability to go big. Even in the middle of these difficult fights. [06:35:02] But you're right, John, I mean, look, how about in 2008. He's the standard bearer for the Republican Party at a time, having been a staunch supporter of the surge in Iraq, not just a supporter of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but particularly tough, even though he was tough on the administration, about what was going on in the world. What he wanted was the surge.

It was a very difficult position be in, running against Senator Barack Obama, when there was such a deep desire for change in the country by 2008. And so I think that he was kind of out of step with the politics at the time, but true to his principals.

And now you have to wonder, this -- as Max has written eloquently about, you know, the defender of the liberal order in foreign policy, weather that part of the Republican Party is -- has moved away from him and moved toward Donald Trump. I don't know that we know that answer for sure. Whether Trump is truly the beginning of something or a sidestep from -- from, you know, fidelity to that international order. That's a question.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Right.

Max, and is this an anomaly or --

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I wish, you know, I wish to God it were an anomaly, Alisyn, but I'm afraid it's not. And, of course, we don't know what's going to happen sometime in the future. But for right now, Donald Trump has completely captured the Republican Party.

And I -- you know, I -- I think these are trends that were building for a long time. They go back to Rush Limbaugh in the '80s, the creation of Fox News in the 1990s, the people like Sarah Palin, who John McCain regretted picking as his vice presidential nominee. But these things have been building, turning the Republican Party away from the kind of party they Ronald Reagan and John McCain envisioned because they saw it as a big tent party, a party of idealism, of hope, a party that would stand up for the liberal international world order, for free trade, for immigration, for the finest principals of America.

And now it's become this deep, dark, divisive, populist, white nationalist, quazi isolationist, quazi protectionist party. And the Republicans seems to love that. I mean it's, to me, one of the most damning things you can say about Republicans today is that 90 percent of them approve of Donald Trump and only about 41 percent of them approved of John McCain. That, to me, is a horrible indictment of the state of the Republican Party today.

BERMAN: I will note, you know, Donald Trump won the presidency. John McCain, Mitt Romney did not.

BOOT: Right.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That is a fact. There are a lot of others factors that go into it. But without going down that rabbit hole totally, I think the point is that McCain represents a tradition in the Republican Party that goes back to at least Eisenhower, to Ronald Reagan. He was Barry Goldwater's successor in the Senate. There is a defense of the liberal international order that was always resented by some folks on the far right.

Now we've seen Donald Trump really tap into that. But that tradition that John McCain represents will age well. It will be something that people look towards, to inspire them, to give them direction, and it may not be a partisan admiration. Already I think it's fascinating to see Senator Chuck Schumer proposing that the Russell Senate Building be renamed after John McCain. That kind of bipartisan example. But it is a bipartisan tradition that has roots in the Republican Party, but right now it is politically homeless. He is more admired by Democrats and independents than Republicans. That's its own kind of indictment.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about --

GREGORY: But it's -- and it's -

CAMEROTA: Go ahead, quickly.

GREGORY: I was just going to say, Alisyn, I was just going to say that what's interesting, too, is that this -- you know this tradition of bridging the divide on campaign finance reform, on immigration, will stand as part of his legacy. Will -- but so will part of a politics that did make him less popular. You know, stalwart support for Iraq. Remember he got in so much trouble for talking about, you know, maybe troops will be there 100 years, like an ongoing military presence in Europe, or in Korea. Those things were true to his principals, but reflected a hawkishness that fell out of favor, especially at the time that he ran for president. And even after that, and certainly in the modern Republican Party.

CAMEROTA: John, let's talk about who might replace him in the Senate, OK? So here are the names that are being floated, Kirk Adams, the Arizona governor's chief of staff, Karen Taylor Robinson, a real estate developer, Eileen Klein, Arizona state treasurer, Cindy McCain, the widow -- his widow, of course, and then, of course, sometimes daughters do, sometimes children do. There's Meghan McCain. She's become a voice for that generation of Republicans. She hopes to be. John Kyle, former Arizona Republican senator. John Shadegg, former Arizona congressman. Matt Salmon, former Arizona Republican congressman.

AVLON: This is the shotgun stage of speculation. Governor Ducey has said he will not make an announcement until after the funeral, the memorial service, which will occur at the National Cathedral we believe on Saturday.

Cindy McCain had been named, and there is a tradition particularly of wives succeeding their husbands in the Senate. But it -- that's -- the tide seems to have turned at least in the conversation of conventional wisdom. His current -- the governor's current chief of staff, the former speaker of the Arizona house, John Kyle is a former Senate colleague of John McCain's.

[08:40:06] And it would be, to some extent, a caretaker. They would hold the office until 2020, then run again in 2022. They would have a major impact on politics for the next two years potentially given how closely divided the Senate is. But this is -- this is all stirring the water conversations.

BERMAN: Well, there are two questions. The short-term question, which is, do you appoint someone who would just be a caretaker for two years or someone who wants to run again. But there's the bigger picture question here, which is, is Governor Ducey going to point a McCain Republican --

AVLON: Or a Trump Republican?

BERMAN: Or a Trump Republican?

AVLON: Exactly. Exactly.

BERMAN: I --

BOT: And, sadly, I think about the only McCain Republican that he could possibly appoint would be actually a McCain, like somebody like Cindy McCain, but there almost is no actual McCain Republicans left in a place like Arizona.

BERMAN: Or Jeff Flake.

AVLON: Or Jeff Flake, yes.

BERMAN: He's -- outgoing Senator Jeff Flake.

BOOT: Yes. Well, that -- that would -- that would be hilarious (INAUDIBLE).

AVLON: Just for fantasy baseball purposes.

BOOT: I'd be in favor of that. But it's probably not going to happen. That would be great if it did.

BERMAN: But I do think there is a big question there. And I think, as you note, I think it will be a more Trump-like person, which speaks volumes.

BOOT: Yes.

CAMEROTA: David Gregory, your thoughts?

GREGORY: Well, I mean, I -- I agree with them. I mean I think that the politics of Arizona, like the Republican part of politics of the country, look at what the president is tweeting about. You know, his approval rating among Republicans, which is extremely high. And in a state like Arizona, he did very well. You know, a Republican governor's got to be thinking about the future of the state and the trend line of the politics. And I suspect that that's where he'll end up unless he wants to put up a firewall and try to keep the McCain live -- you know, family name alive.

CAMEROTA: Yes, go ahead, John. AVLON: But just, you know, the number of independent voters in Arizona, for example, has been rising dramatically. They're a plurality in this -- in Phoenix itself. So I think the stereotype of Arizona being deep red doesn't necessarily hold anymore. I mean Kyrsten Sinema, the presumptive Democratic nominee for senator, doing very well there. So the -- Arizona itself has had more independent voters influencing its politics, rather than the old western conservative base.

BOOT: And I think -- I think, John, you make an important point because we have to remember that even though the Republican Party has been completely Trumpafied (ph), the actual Republican Party has shrunk as a percentage of the population. We're talking about 26 percent of the country identifies as Republicans, very, very low.

BERMAN: Gentlemen, thank you very much for being here this morning and having this discussion.

CAMEROTA: OK, now to this news. A video game tournament becomes the site of the latest tragedy. What we're learning about this mass shooting in Jacksonville, next.

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[06:46:28] CAMEROTA: Jacksonville police have identified the gunman who open fired in the middle of a video game tournament. He killed two gamers. Investigators are trying to figure out why.

CNN's Rosa Flores is live in Jacksonville.

What do you know, Rosa?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, hearts are heavy as authorities announce the names of the victims, two of them, 27-year- old Taylor Robertson from West Virginia, and 22-year-old Eli Clayton from California. The name of the suspect, David Katz, 24 years of age, from Baltimore.

Now, here's what we know. According to authorities, shots rang out at about 1:30 yesterday at Chicago Pizza during a video game tournament. Now, the chilling moments were captured on audio. And I've got to let you know that this audio and video is disturbing. Take a listen.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to be hard to get them on screen. This is a lot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it's not a -- it's not a tough out -- excuse me, not an easy out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, (EXPLETIVE DELETED) what did he shoot me with? Oh --

(END VIDEO CLIP) FLORES: Seven Jacksonville firefighters, according to the Firefighters Association, were actually training in front of that complex where the shooting happened. And those firefighters responded immediately. They split up. Four of them started treating the injured out here on the street. The other three flagged a police officer. Were the first on the scene. Now, according to authorities, there's 13 victims, two of them died, and the other 11 were somehow injured. The suspect, according to authorities, took his own life.

John.

BERMAN: All right, Rosa Flores for us in Jacksonville. Rosa, thanks for staying on that for us.

Pope Francis is refusing to comment on claims he was told about sexual abuse allegations against a high profile U.S. cardinal years ago and did nothing about it.

CNN's Delia Gallagher live in Rome with the very latest.

Delia.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, those allegations coming from the former papal envoy to the United States in an 11 page statement that was issued on Sunday while the pope was in Ireland. On the return flight last night to Rome, the pope addressed those allegations and he told journalists this. He said, I will not say a single word on this. I read the statement this morning and I must tell you sincerely, read the statement carefully and make your own judgment.

Also, John, the pope said that he won't speak on it now, but he may sometime in the future. This came as he wrapped up his two days in Ireland. A very different Ireland from the one that John Paul II saw in 1979. It was a somber visit with Pope Francis apologizing various times for sex abuse and for cover-up. He met with survivors of sex abuse, as well as survivors of Ireland's notorious mother and baby homes. But we heard time and time again, John and Alisyn, in Ireland that these survivors and others would like action from the Vatican, not just words. But they may have to wait sometime before they see that.

Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Yes, Delia, we hear that here in the U.S. as well. There's so many people looking for action. Thank you very much.

[06:49:53] So a legend in the entertainment world passes away. How Neil Simon is being remembers today.

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BERMAN: The father of Mollie Tibbetts calling on the community to turn the page at his daughter's funeral. More than 1,200 people packing in an Iowa gymnasium to say good bye to the 20-year-old college student. She vanished in July after going out for a jog. Her body was found last week. The 24-year-old undocumented immigrant accused of killing her is expected back in court later this week. He's being held on $5 million bond.

CAMEROTA: Neil Simon, one of the most prolific playwrights in American history, has died. Simon's publicist tells CNN that he died from complication with pneumonia early Sunday morning. Simon was behind classic comedies including "The Odd Couple," "Barefoot in the Park," and "Brighton Beach Memoirs." During his career, he snagged 16 Tony nominations. He won three of those. He also earned four Oscar nominations and a Pulitzer Prize. Simon was 91 years old.

BERMAN: And even with all those accolades, he was still underrated.

A team from Honolulu in Hawaii can say they're the best in the world after winning the 2018 Little League World Series Sunday. The team got an early lead after hitting this home run. It beat the team from South Korea 3-0. This is the third time Hawaii has won and the first time ever for a team from Honolulu.

[06:55:04] Former president and Honolulu native Barack Obama even tweeted the boy's congratulations. And I've got to say, Hawaii has gone through a lot over the last few months between the volcano eruption and the hurricane that just hit there. So it's nice they have this news to celebrate.

CAMEROTA: That last hit could have gone from Oahu to Maui. That was really far.

BERMAN: Well done (INAUDIBLE).

CAMEROTA: Thanks. What I lack in sports references, I make up for in Hawaii references.

BERMAN: Well done.

CAMEROTA: OK, from the battlefield to the Senate, John McCain's legacy is being honored around the world this morning. But President Trump is taking a different tact. All of that coming up.

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[06:59:41] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's been a few leaders that have ever sacrificed as much as John McCain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He kept working. He kept fighting literally to his last day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was an honor to watch the kind of respect world leaders had for him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: White House staff proposed putting out a statement calling McCain a hero. Trump nixed it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was in every way he knew how trying to sound the alarm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John faced his prognosis the same way he did everything else, a matter of fact incredible sense of humor.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I've had the good fortune to spend 60 years in service to this wondrous land, and I am so grateful