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Life and Legacy of McCain; Gunman Kills Two Gamers at a Tournament; Mother Talks of McCain Honoring Her Son. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired August 27, 2018 - 08:30   ET



[08:33:06] SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: My friends, I can't tell you how happy I am to be back in the great state of New Hampshire. I'll admit -- our great memories. The hundreds of town hall meetings. The travels across this great state from one end to the end for many, many years. I love you. I love New Hampshire.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: That was Senator John McCain expressing his love for the granite state during the last month of his 2008 presidential campaign.

So joining us now to talk about the legacy of John McCain is former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu. He was chief of staff to President George H.W. Bush.

Good morning, governor.

JOHN SUNUNU (R), FORMER NEW HAMPSHIRE GOVERNOR: Good morning, Alisyn. How are you?

CAMEROTA: Well, I'm well.

Oh, my gosh, just remembering how much time John McCain invested in New Hampshire and how much he loved the retail politics there and the mixing it up and the stump speeches. You know, Jeff Jacobi, in "The Boston Globe" this morning, calls him New Hampshire's third senator. What are your thoughts?

SUNUNU: That's very accurate. You know, if you're involved in politics at all in New Hampshire, you certainly do get to know at least on some level those who are running for president. And John McCain grew to embrace the style of campaigning that works well in New Hampshire.

The last time I saw him, for any significant amount of time, was when he came up to campaign for Kelly Ayotte in 2016. And we spent a full day -- I was trying to help my son, Chris, who was running for governor, and the four of us spent a full day in a van crossing the state, hitting a number of events. And to listen to John talk in that van about how wonderful his experiences were up here, you knew this was someone that had truly connected with the state. He loved the campaigning, the face to face campaigning. He loved being challenged with questions at the town hall.

[08:35:07] And as we went from event to event, it was obvious he remembered people at each one of those events from the previous campaigns and loved to chat with them about how they had come together over the years. So he really did embrace the New Hampshire see me, touch me, feel me style of campaigning and grew to love the people that helped him.

CAMEROTA: You're just reminding me of something from the Straight Talk Express. So I was on it -- on the bus with him in 1999. And, you know, I went to many of his stump speeches. So he would sometimes replay his greatest hits, you know, and some of his favorite jokes. And one of them that I'm just reminded of is that he said that he overheard two women in New Hampshire talking after one of his stump speeches and one said to the other, what do you think of Senator McCain? And the other one said, I don't know, I've only met him three times. And he used to -- that one brought the house down.

SUNUNU: Yes, that's -- John had about five jokes that he loved to repeat.


SUNUNU: And, in fact, let you know he was going to repeat them. So he used them well and it got to a point where the audience felt deprived if he didn't tell the same joke the next time they saw him that he had said the previous time.

Look, this was --

CAMEROTA: No, I totally agree, they didn't get old. I agree, having heard them many times. He delivered them with the same verve and novelty each time.

SUNUNU: Yes. And, you know, he had an interesting take on the town halls. He almost felt that he was deprived if somebody didn't ask him a tough challenging question. Not somebody that he felt was trying to provoke him, but somebody that was trying to really find something out about an issue and he loved taking that opportunity to explain the details of something that was important.

The person that knew him best up in New Hampshire, of course, is Senator Ayotte. John McCain embraced Senator Ayotte when she got elected. He kind of brought her in as part of the three amigos with Senator Lindsey Nelson and himself. And he worked with her on the committees and tried to make sure that she really was treated in a way that allowed her to grow in the Senate. And he -- she really, I think, became his closest New Hampshire ally.

CAMEROTA: So, governor, what do you think about President Trump rejecting the practice of putting out an official White House statement about John McCain's service and sacrifice?

SUNUNU: Look, that was printed in "The Washington Post," and I have to be honest with you, I don't give much credence to what I read.

CAMEROTA: We also have that reporting.

SUNUNU: Yes, well, same thing applies, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Governor, you come on CNN and we appreciate you coming on CNN and we appreciate your take on it. But I don't appreciate you denigrating our reporting. I think that you know we have excellent reporters here. But are you saying that you don't want to believe that? You don't want to believe that President Trump would do that about John McCain?

SUNUNU: I'm saying that I don't want to comment on a report that I haven't satisfied myself is correct.

CAMEROTA: And if that report were true?

SUNUNU: I'm not going to answer the hypothetical.

CAMEROTA: It's not hypothetical. This is our reporting. We have rock solid sources in the White House that there was a statement that drafted --

SUNUNU: Alisyn, Look, I came on -- you asked me to come on to talk about John McCain. I'm here to talk about John McCain as I remember him. I'm not here to talk about the press's handling of a difference between the White House and the press corps at this time.

CAMEROTA: It's not the press's handling. It's President Trump's handling of John McCain's death.

SUNUNU: OK. Look, John McCain was a great American who deserves to be recognized as a great American. He is being recognized by his colleagues and of friends -- his friends around. Melania Trump has certainly put out an exceptionally strong statement outlining the appreciation for his service. The White House has recognized the sorrow of the family. And I think Americans ought to be looking at the positive side, not trying to create a division amongst people who are in joint sorrow mourning a great American.

CAMEROTA: And are you satisfied that President Trump's statement goes far enough?

SUNUNU: I suspect there will be additional statements over time and I think this effort to try and create a cleavage there really does disturb me. It is, in fact, this kind of -- it is, in fact --

CAMEROTA: Sorry, can you repeat that? Sorry, somebody was talking to me. This effort to what?

SUNUNU: Cleavage between the White House and the -- and those that are mourning John McCain. It is this effort by the press to accentuate the negative that I think has created the climate that prevents, in the long term, the bipartisanship that John McCain supported. And I don't want to be a part of rubbing whatever salt there is in whatever wound there may be because I think that just adds to the division.

[08:40:19] I'm here because I lost a good friend. I wanted to express my concern about that. I wanted to applaud what he contributed to the country. I wanted to underscore the relationship he had with the state of New Hampshire. And I'm not here to play the political games that some of the press want to play at this moment of what I think is great sorrow for the country.

CAMEROTA: Just to be clear, we don't see it as a game. And to be clear, the press didn't create whatever division exists that President Trump feels that allowed him to spike the statement that General John Kelly wanted him to put out about John McCain's sacrifice. The press didn't invent that.

SUNUNU: Alisyn, everybody -- everybody -- everybody reflects their concerns in ways that are consistent with whatever they feel. I've expressed my concern at the loss of John McCain, who I think was a great American. A great American hero in the military. A great American hero in the political process. And, frankly, great American hero on a personal level to people that knew him well. And it is on those three levels that I sense the loss and I have expressed my -- my feelings of sorrow for him having passed and my expression of feelings of sorrow for his personal family who lost him and for a country who lost a great American hero.

CAMEROTA: You're not alone, governor. So many people feel that way. So many people echo that today. And that's why it is notable that the president doesn't.

SUNUNU: Well, I'm here to talk about my friend John McCain. You appear to be here to talk about something that you think you can exploit. And I find that rather unpleasant.

CAMEROTA: Governor, again, we don't have to try to exploit something. This is a fact. This is a truism, that the --

SUNUNU: Well, why are you dwelling on it?

CAMEROTA: Because President --

SUNUNU: I have given you my comment --

CAMEROTA: And I would --

SUNUNU: I have given you my comments on it and I am here to talk about John McCain.

CAMEROTA: Fair. And I just reject your premise that this is something the press has created. It has been customary, probably since George Washington was president, to honor a war hero.

SUNUNU: And you should make -- you should make your inquires directly to the White House if you want a direct answer.

CAMEROTA: Governor John Sununu, we appreciate you coming on and giving us your thoughts about what John McCain meant to you and to New Hampshire.

Thank you very much. SUNUNU: It's a great loss for the country and for the world.



BERMAN: Words spoken by John Sununu.

Gunfire at a video game tournament. What we know about this deadly shooting on Jacksonville's water front. That's next.


[08:47:03] BERMAN: Jacksonville police have identified the gunman who opened fire in the middle of a video game tournament, as well as the two gamers he killed. Investigators are now trying to figure out what sent that gunman over the edge.

CNN's Rosa Flores live for us in Jacksonville.

Rosa, what are you learning?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, hearts are heavy here as we learn the names of the two victims who died, 27-year-old Taylor Robertson from West Virginia and 22-year-old Eli Clayton from California.

We're also learning more about the alleged gunman. His name, David Katz, 24 years of age from Baltimore, Maryland. He was a known gamer. He was a champion from back in 2017. And he was here in Baltimore for this particular tournament.

Now, let me set the scene here for you because shots rang out about 1:30 yesterday during this video game. So I'm about to show you some video and some audio. I have to warn you that it's disturbing, but it happened during the video. So the video will actually show some of the game going on. Take a listen.


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.


FLORES: Very chaotic moments. We've learned from the Jacksonville Firefighters Association that seven firefighters were very near the scene. They immediately started treating people outside here in -- on the street and in the courtyard. And then three firefighters flagged a police officer. They went inside. We know that there are 13 victims here, two have died, 11 others either had gunshot wounds or other types of injuries. And no motive has been established at this point, John and Alisyn, but authorities scrubbing this suspect's home in Baltimore trying to find a clue.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, Rosa, so horrible to hear that moment happen as the shots ring out there.

Thank you very much for all of your reporting from the scene.

Well, Senator John McCain, as you know, sacrificed for our country in Vietnam. He was a prisoner of war. Next, what one mom asked Senator John McCain to do for her fallen son.


[08:52:17] CAMEROTA: Before he became the Republican nominee for president in 2008, John McCain started wearing a bracelet in honor of a fallen soldier. He kept it on through the campaign and he kept in touch with the mom who asked him to wear it in remembrance of her 22- year-old son Matthew Stanley. Here is that emotional moment.


LYNN SAVAGE: During the war in Vietnam, I proudly wore a silver bracelet on my arm in support of a soldier that was fighting. Today, unfortunately, I wear a black bracelet in memory of my son who lost his life in Baghdad. I would like to know, sir, if you would wear this so that you could remember your mission and their mission in support of them?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I would be honored.

SAVAGE: Thank you, sir.

MCCAIN: And grateful.

SAVAGE: Thank you. Thank you, Senator McCain. I appreciate it.

MCCAIN: May I ask how old Matthew was? Twenty-two. Thank you for his service. Yes, ma'am, I will wear this. Thank you.


CAMEROTA: Joining us now is Lynn Savage. She is that mom that you just saw in the video.

Lynn, wow, what a touching moment that is to watch. Can you tell us what that moment meant to you?

LYNN SAVAGE, SEN. MCCAIN WORE BRACELET HONORING HER SON KILLED IN IRAQ: It was a very, very special moment in my life. I never intended to give him the bracelet, but something compelled me to just hand it over to him and ask him to please, please remember what is still going on and the lives that are being lost. And I felt that he was such a good and honest man that he would wear it.

CAMEROTA: When he said, I would be honored, what were you expecting him to say when you gave it to him? SAVAGE: I honestly did not know. At one point I thought maybe he would

just take it, put it in his pocket and continue. But I believe he immediately put it on and kept it on.

CAMEROTA: He kept it on throughout the campaign?

SAVAGE: Yes, he did.

CAMEROTA: And he would refer to your son. He would say your son's name. He would bring up that moment continually. And what did you think about that?

SAVAGE: I thought it was incredible. You know, if you always speak their name, they never truly die. And he did that for us. He did that for everyone. Not just for my son, but by mentioning his name he kept in mind all of the soldiers that were there and all of those that have come home in a box, not physically there.


You went to that town hall not as a John McCain supporter.


CAMEROTA: Did you leave differently?

SAVAGE: I had different thoughts when I left for sure. Absolutely. No, my husband was the supporter and I went along just to keep him company and to listen to what he had to say. And, yes, he kind of changed my mind after listening to him speak.

[08:55:10] CAMEROTA: You -- that day that you gave him the bracelet, that was eight months after your son was killed. And on the one-year anniversary of the day that your son was killed, you got a phone call from Senator McCain. Can you share that with us?

SAVAGE: I did indeed. Yes, he called me in the morning and said that, you know, good morning, Lynn, this is Senator John McCain and I'm just calling to see how you're doing today. That was it. Just plain, simple. We chatted for a couple of minutes and that was it. How thoughtful.


SAVAGE: A man with a busy schedule taking a few minutes out to speak to me.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, and that he would -- he would know that that was the date, that he would have looked into it, that he would have researched it, that he carved out time in his schedule, that he called you and wanted to connect.

SAVAGE: Exactly. Yes. Yes. A very, very special moment for me.

CAMEROTA: And so what do you think the country lost this weekend with the passing of John McCain? SAVAGE: Oh, we lost a hero, a true hero, a patriot, a good American.

Someone that is going to be missed terribly.

CAMEROTA: How do you want the country to remember him and carry his legacy?

SAVAGE: I think that, you know, yes, we're all sorry that he has passed, but I think that we should not mourn his death but celebrate the life that this American hero and true patriot lived. We should try to live our lives like that.

CAMEROTA: That will be a tall order, Lynn.


CAMEROTA: It will be a tall order to emulate someone --

SAVAGE: Indeed.

CAMEROTA: With the bravery that he had in those conditions as a POW before and after.

SAVAGE: Yes, ma'am, it will be.

CAMEROTA: Lynn, thank you. Thanks for sharing that personal moment with us. And, of course, thank you for your family's sacrifice. We really appreciate you.

SAVAGE: You're very welcome. I appreciate it.

CAMEROTA: CNN "NEWSROOM" with Erica Hill will pick up after this very quick break. And John and I will see you tomorrow.


[09:00:06] ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Erica Hill, in today for Poppy Harlow.

As the nation begins a week of farewells for one of its most indomitable public figures, one voice