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U.N. Teams Scramble To Contain Ebola Outbreak In Congo; Biden Calls Booker About Segregationist Senators Controversy; Why U.S. Is Lagging On Broadband Access. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired June 21, 2019 - 07:30   ET



[07:31:25] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump insists he does not need any swing state voters to give him a second term in White House, except -- well, the numbers may have a different story.

John Avlon, our resident mathematician, has our reality check. Hi, John.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Donald Trump doesn't need no stinking swing voters to get reelected. At least that's what he told "Time Magazine," saying, "I think my base is so strong, I'm not sure that I have to do that." But this is 'play to the base' on steroids, but it fits the way he's governed.

Now, Trump is massively popular within the Republican Party but he's the only president in the history of Gallup polling never to have been above 50 percent approval among all Americans in his presidency. And no president has been reelected with a net-negative poll rating.

And no matter what Trump believes, he can't safely ignore swing voters and expect to be reelected. That's because the base just isn't big enough to win on its own.

Only 30 percent of Americans identify as Republican, according to the most recent Gallup tracking poll. A third of Democrats at 31 percent, while Independents are a plurality of American voters at 38 percent.

Now, Donald Trump won the Independent vote over Hillary Clinton 46 to 42 percent. In part, that may be because Trump was seen as less conservative than past GOP nominees.

But here's the big warning sign for Trump's reelection. Democrats won Independent voters big time in the 2018 midterms by a 12-point margin. That's three times what Trump won them by just two years before. And that trend is not Trump's friend.

Let's take a quick look at the 2020 map. The good news for Republicans is that according to Gallup, there are 19 states where voters identify as highly conservative, while another six lean conservative. That's compared to just six states where there are more liberals than conservatives, while another nine lean liberal. But the gray states, those are the key battlegrounds there -- the swing states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado, Virginia, Nevada. And according to the latest Gallup state polling, Donald Trump is underwater in terms of his popularity in all of them.

So, dismissing swing voters would seem to be a form of electoral suicide, except that Donald Trump's already managed to upend all expectations once.

And if he's not going to court swing voters he still has one path open to him. Go nuclear when it comes to negative partisanship. That means a scorched-earth campaign where he tries to convince swing voters that Democrats are too extreme while motivating his base at the same time.

And that explains why he's been saying things like this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice, and rage. They want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it.


AVLON: Now, Democrats can take some comfort from the fact that Trump has failed to build support behind his base and intensity definitely seems to be on their side. About 51 percent of voters say they will definitely vote against Trump's reelection.

But presidential elections are ultimately a 'compared to what' proposition and if they nominate a candidate who can be credibly characterized as radical or fail to connect to Independents or swing voters, Trump could pull out another 'against all odds' victory.

The bottom line, no matter what President Trump's gut tells him, swing voters in swing states will determine the winner of the next presidential election.

And that's your reality check.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And you know what, John? The campaign -- the Trump campaign clearly knows that the president's full of it on that front. I mean, he's doing interviews with ABC News and NBC News after only talking to Fox for a long time.

AVLON: Right.

BERMAN: So they know that they have to at least make the motions of reaching beyond the base.

AVLON: And yet, his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, has tried to double down on the president's messaging because, in part, he has an audience of one.

BERMAN: That's right. CAMEROTA: And by the way, my voter panel, yesterday, of swing voters --


CAMEROTA: -- we see erosion. Half of them did vote for him and now say that they will no longer do that.

AVLON: Exactly right.

CAMEROTA: Thank you, John.

[07:35:00] BERMAN: I liked how you made it about you -- all right.

AVLON: (Laughing).

CAMEROTA: There's nothing I can't really swap to see it through that lens.

BERMAN: Happening now, an urgent situation unfolding this morning. An Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Officials are struggling to contain the march of this disease and this is already the world's second-biggest outbreak ever.

CNN has been granted rare access to sites where the impact is clear. CNN's David McKenzie live there on the ground with the very latest. David, what's the situation?


The situation is tenuous and in that outbreak zone, doctors and scientists are trying their best, but more than 2,000 people have been infected by this Ebola outbreak. We just got back from the center of the hot zone and modern medicine just isn't proving enough to stop the spread.


MCKENZIE (voice-over): Doctor Cameron Moday (ph) enters this exhausting battleground where a transparent barrier isolates a highly- contagious Ebola patient from the outside world. His team rushes to stabilize a young woman who lost her baby, and her husband, to the virus.

The death rate in this outbreak may be 70 percent.

MCKENZIE (on camera): You know sometimes you forget -- even for himself, this is my third Ebola outbreak -- the terror that this strikes into people. When people come here they feel they might die. In fact, they believe there's a good chance they will.

But if they're inside there they will be able to see the eyes, the emotions, the care of the doctors. And also, for the family members coming in, they'll be able to interact with them. They're no longer isolated in the same sense. MCKENZIE (voice-over): They call these new units "The Cube."

"The family can begin to trust us," says Dr. Moday, "because they can see with their own eyes that we are caring for their loved ones."

Its design, a hard lesson learned from the 2014 West African epidemic where Ebola killed more than 11,000.

This time around, teams are also armed with an effective, if experimental, vaccine -- advances that meant this outbreak was supposed to be different. It wasn't supposed to last this long or kill so many. Ten months later, it is still spreading.

For the vaccine to work, the teams need to be able to reach all of this, but this is Eastern Congo, a region racked by decades of violence where armed groups continue to thrive in a dysfunctional state. So a mistrusting community is understandable.

DAVID GRESSLY, COORDINATOR, U.N. EBOLA EMERGENCY RESPONSE: What's at stake here is whether we can break this transmission or not. If it continues to be interrupted it's likely that the virus will continue to propagate.

MCKENZIE (on camera): And what would that mean for this region -- for global health?

GRESSLY: It remains a threat to surrounding provinces. It remains a threat to surrounding countries. So we cannot -- we cannot let it spread.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): For the spread to stop, Samuel Mataquan (ph) needs to work, keeping track of those most likely to become infected.

MCKENZIE (on camera): So that's 36.8.


MCKENZIE (on camera): So, that's safe?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, that's safe.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): But like so many health workers here, Samuel has been threatened, even beaten up by his terrified neighbors.

MCKENZIE (on camera): Sometimes all the world knows is fear, but they don't look at the individual people.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): "We need to treat these patients with empathy," he says. "We need to treat them. They're a member of the family."

In the nearby creche, Ebola survivors now immune to the disease, like Macena (ph), become family to young babies, who wait to see if they're infected mothers will live or die.

MCKENZIE (on camera): You have a smile on your face. Why do you have a smile on your face?

"My smile is the joy of being alive," she says. "I beat Ebola. I'm smiling to the God that gave me life."


MCKENZIE: Well, John, it's really those brave people on the ground, like Samuel, who are the key, it seems, to stopping the spread, and taking out those teams into the communities, and tracing all those contacts to try and ring-fence this Ebola outbreak.

Just in the past few days, though, there's been severe fighting to the north of where I'm standing. Hundreds of thousands of people on the move and scientists fear they could take Ebola with them -- John.

BERMAN: I have to say, David, thank you for going there and telling this story. And to the people who are putting their lives on the line to fight this outbreak, they are true heroes.

David McKenzie on the ground in Congo. Thank you very much.

CNN has now confirmed an operation to strike Iran was ordered by the president and then called off overnight by the president with the planes in the air. Why the last-minute reversal?

Plus, former vice president Joe Biden tries to smooth things over with Cory Booker. We will speak to a top official from the Biden campaign. That's next.


[07:44:13] CAMEROTA: Former vice president Joe Biden called Sen. Cory Booker last night to talk out their argument. Senator Booker believes that Joe Biden's comments about working with segregationist senators were, quote, "so insulting."

So last night, Booker revealed what he told the former vice president.


SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I had an opportunity to explain to him even further how -- why African Americans -- African American men -- African American men who have been called "boy" before -- why racist senators like those would look at him and call him "son" as seeing themselves in him and see it in a black man -- call them "boy" because they don't see themselves, but they see someone that they're dehumanizing or degrading.


[07:45:04] CAMEROTA: All right, joining us now is Kate Bedingfield. She is the deputy campaign manager and communications director for Biden's campaign. Kate, we're so happy to have you here with us this morning to walk us through all of this.


CAMEROTA: Thank you for being on.

BEDINGFIELD: Thanks for having me.

CAMEROTA: What can you tell us about Vice President Biden's side of that conversation last night?

BEDINGFIELD: Well look, I think the most important thing here is that the story the vice president was telling was about how awful the segregationist views of Jim Eastland and Herman Talmadge were. The entire point of the story was that they held views that were repugnant to him and that was reflected in the way they talked.

And so, what he did in the Senate was to take them on.


BEDINGFIELD: He passed an extension of the Voting Rights Act and he spent his entire career, from the time he was elected, fighting to protect and expand civil rights in this country.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I understand his history. But in terms of the conversation last night, what does he think the -- what does Vice President Biden think the upshot was? Does he still want an apology from Sen. Booker?

BEDINGFIELD: Well, their conversation was their private conversation. But --

CAMEROTA: Well, Sen. Booker is sharing his side of it, so I just want to know what the upshot was --

BEDINGFIELD: And he's absolutely -- he's absolutely entitled to do that. But the vice president is not going to discuss his side of the conversation. He was happy to talk to Sen. Booker. He obviously has the utmost respect for him.

CAMEROTA: Does he still want an apology from Sen. Booker?

BEDINGFIELD: The -- he -- the most important thing here is that he has spent his entire life fighting to protect civil rights. He stood shoulder-to-shoulder with President Obama --

CAMEROTA: I understand.

BEDINGFIELD: -- in the White House.

CAMEROTA: I mean -- I know -- I understand his message and why it's his brand -- building bridges. I get all that.

I just -- in terms of this particular hiccup or whatever you want to call it -- episode -- why did he originally want an apology from Sen. Booker? What had Sen. Booker done wrong?

BEDINGFIELD: I think the most important thing here is to remember that Vice President Biden is a total -- is a champion of civil rights.

His -- you know, he had a good conversation with Sen. Booker. Senator -- you know, you heard Sen. Booker characterize it last night. The vice president was happy to talk to him.

But --

CAMEROTA: He's the one -- I mean, Kate, I'm sorry to interrupt you and I know that that's the message that you want to get out. And I get it -- message received.

But it was Vice President Biden who demanded the apology from Sen. Booker and I just want to know what was he supposed to apologize for?

BEDINGFIELD: He was -- you know, the vice president, I think, was frustrated that a story that he has told many times was being taken out of context. Again, the entire point of the story is that sometimes you have to work with people who you vehemently disagree with or whose views you find repugnant.


BEDINGFIELD: That is the only way to move forward in this country. So, he --

CAMEROTA: And he thinks he's good at that and I -- and I get that. And I think that obviously, voters have said in polls that they want that.

But I think where we get tripped up is the language. Why did he use the word "boy"?

Let me just read it for people. This is the part that people get hung up on.

When he's talking about Sen. Eastland in the past, the vice president said, "He never called me 'boy' -- he always called me 'son'. At least there was some civility.

We got things done. We didn't agree on much of anything. We got things done."

Why did he use -- I don't even know what that means.

BEDINGFIELD: The entire -- the entire --

CAMEROTA: Why did he think that he would have been called "boy"?

BEDINGFIELD: But the entire point of the story is that Sen. Eastland used repugnant language like that.

And again, I think there is an attempt here to suggest that Vice President Biden was praising segregationists. Nothing could be further from the truth.

And what's unacceptable is that the person in this country who actually has praised segregationists and white nationalists is the person who is in the Oval Office right now. And, Joe Biden is running for president to try to bring us back to a place of dignity and compassion. And you have a president in the Oval Office who does nothing but try to pit group against group, to blame the other.


BEDINGFIELD: And the vice president believes that that kind of leadership is taking this country to a very dark place --


BEDINGFIELD: -- and he is hopeful and optimistic -- and you're going to hear him. He's going to South Carolina today.

CAMEROTA: Yes, to the fish fry. We look forward to that.


CAMEROTA: But that's why when former vice president Joe Biden says things like this that get him tripped up it's confusing to people because those senators wouldn't have called him "boy".

And part of why I'm pressing you on this is because it sounds like it was a slip. Did he mean to say that they never called him "boy"?

BEDINGFIELD: The -- again, the whole -- the entire point of the story and the use of that language is that they were -- they held repugnant views. They were segregationists who were --

CAMEROTA: But not towards Joe Biden, they didn't. Toward blacks, they did.

BEDINGFIELD: -- who spoke -- who spoke disrespectfully -- sure, they spoke disrespectfully.

Joe Biden was 29 years old when he was elected to the Senate and he was not afforded the respect of the office.

There are examples of Sen. Eastland, I believe, calling Sen. Kennedy "boy".


BEDINGFIELD: So, they spoke disrespectfully.

And the entire point of the story is that that is unacceptable. That is not the way -- that's certainly not the way that anyone should behave.

CAMEROTA: There --

BEDINGFIELD: But the nature of -- the nature of our government is that sometimes you have to work with people with whom you vehemently disagree.

[07:50:00] CAMEROTA: Of course, understood. Message received. Yes, message received --

BEDINGFIELD: And, Joe Biden did that -- and Joe Biden did that.

CAMEROTA: -- on that.

The last question, Kate, is does Vice President Biden have a hard time apologizing?

BEDINGFIELD: I think, again, the most important thing here is that this story is being taken out of context and being used -- being used to suggest --

CAMEROTA: But, I mean, even other things like with Anita Hill with the personal space stuff.

It seems like it takes him a while to work his way around to being able to say that he wants to apologize if he's been insensitive somehow.

BEDINGFIELD: He is a compassionate person who always speaks his mind and his heart. People know that about him. And he has no problem apologizing when an apology is needed.

CAMEROTA: Kate Bedingfield, thank you very much for being on NEW DAY. Oh, and when will Vice President Biden be able to come on NEW DAY?

BEDINGFIELD: We will work with you on that soon.

CAMEROTA: We would look forward to that and look forward to talking to him. Thank you very much, Kate.

BEDINGFIELD: Thank you. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.


BERMAN: Nice work there.

The breaking news this morning, CNN has confirmed the president ordered a military strike against Iran, then called it off overnight. The question this morning is why?

Our reporters are working their sources. We will bring you the new developments, next.


[07:55:13] BERMAN: All right.

This morning, a special report on America's crumbling infrastructure. Broadband access has been really one of the federal government's weak spots for years. Rural America, even some urban areas, struggling to connect to the grid.

CNN's Miguel Marquez has been looking into this and you found some really startling things, Miguel. MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and look, they've been struggling with this for many, many years, the federal government.

We're in the midst of a massive economic and cultural transformation driven mainly by technology. The bottom line that we discovered, either you are on board or you are left behind.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): Bob and Amanda Pritchard are raising three kids in a home they built. He's an assistant principal, she's starting her own business. One thing is missing.

MARQUEZ (on camera): How necessary is the Internet, no matter where you are?

BOB PRITCHARD, CLEVELAND, TENNESSEE RESIDENT: It's essential. I mean, it's an essential piece of education, it's an essential piece of business.

You can ahead and top it off.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The Pritchards are just beyond the Internet's reach. Amanda is trying to start her own fresh-cut flower business.

MARQUEZ (on camera): What could you do with more Internet?

AMANDA PRITCHARD, CLEVELAND, TENNESSEE RESIDENT: I could definitely reach more people and educational purposes. Learning how to start a business and run a business.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The Pritchards live in Cleveland, Tennessee near Chattanooga, which has some of the fastest Internet in the country.

RVRB media used to be in Cleveland. It's owner, Clark Campbell, needed broadband. He had no choice but to move the company to Chattanooga.

CLARK CAMPBELL, CO-FOUNDER, RVRB AGENCY, CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE: As much as I love Chattanooga, Cleveland is losing jobs because of new companies, like mine, that are moving to Chattanooga for just better infrastructure --

MARQUEZ (on camera): Right.

CAMPBELL: -- and mainly, Internet.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Supplying Internet and now, broadband nationwide, long a goal of the federal government.

TRUMP: You are going to have great, great broadband.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, high- speed broadband is not a luxury, it's a necessity. MARQUEZ (voice-over): Since 2011, the FCC has spent billions building out broadband to rural areas. Still, some 24 million Americans don't have basic access to Internet.

MARQUEZ (on camera): Where does Internet service come on the -- on the list?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ironically, you would think public safety, education. I hear about broadband as much as I do as any other topic.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Cleveland's old wool mill is being refurbed into the Grit & Grace vintage and artisan market. Internet, essential.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we don't cross this digital divide, Cleveland, Tennessee will plateau and cease to grow.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Charter and AT&T, CNN's parent company, both say faster, cheaper Internet is rolling out in Cleveland and their service areas nationwide. When, harder to say.

But with satellite and 5G wireless around the corner, maybe high-speed access will soon look differently -- maybe.

SANDY WALLACE, CLEVELAND, TENNESSEE RESIDENT: It's the best signal in this house.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Sandy Wallace relies on a mobile hotspot. The wired Internet ends about 300 yards from her home.

MARQUEZ (on camera): This is a utility -- Internet.

WALLACE: Absolutely.

MARQUEZ (on camera): It's a -- right.

WALLACE: Absolutely. You've got to have it to function now.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Joining the digital economy for many, not close enough or soon enough.


MARQUEZ: So, how long will it take for the entire country to have access to broadband? Probably it won't happen very soon. 5G will be rolled out but probably in cities first. And then, satellite technology still has to prove that it can work effectively and for a price that mom and pop shops can afford.

BERMAN: It's a utility. You heard it right there.

MARQUEZ: Absolutely -- a total utility.

BERMAN: It changes the way you think about it.

CAMEROTA: Miguel, thank you -- MARQUEZ: Yes.

CAMEROTA: -- very much.

Well, President Trump almost retaliated against Iran last night but he called it off. The breaking details, right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BERMAN: All right. Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Friday, June 21st. It's 8:00 in the East.

And we do begin with the breaking news. CNN has now confirmed that the president ordered a military operation to strike Iran, but the president called it off overnight.

This was going to be in retaliation for the downing of an unmanned American surveillance aircraft. The planned targets were Iranian radars and missile batteries.

"The New York Times" reports that U.S. planes were in the air and this operation underway when the president abruptly changed course.

CAMEROTA: At this hour, it is not clear how long this holding pattern will last.

The U.S. and Iran trading accusations about the downing of the unmanned craft over the Strait of Hormuz. Tehran says it violated Iranian airspace. The U.S. says the aircraft was over international waters.

So what made President Trump abruptly halt this military operation?

Let's begin our coverage with Ryan Browne. He is live at the Pentagon with new information -- Ryan.


We're still attempting to get additional details about exactly what occurred that brought this operation to a halt before it could be carried out against these targets in Iran. Now, we're told the targets were, in fact, missile batteries and radar associated.