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tv   CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield  CNN  August 20, 2017 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT

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hello and thanks for joining us. i'm jim sciutto in today for fredricka whitfield. we just learned moments ago, president trump will address our nation's troops and the american people tomorrow night at 9:00 eastern in arlington, virginia, he'll provide an update on the path forward for america's engagement in afghanistan and the region there in south asia. let's go to boris sanchez. do we have a sense of where the president is going here? what decision he's made? more troops, fewer troops? what's the strategy. >> no indication just yet, we're just learning about this a few moments ago, the president is going to speak to the nation at 9:00 p.m. tomorrow from ft. meyer, he tweeted about a final decision on the strategy in afghanistan just yesterday saying that after important meetings with top military brass they had finally come to a decision, however, the
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implications are very raw. there could be a surge as suggested by some like senator john mccain of arizona or we could see a complete withdrawal, perhaps shifting of responsibilities in afghanistan to a private organization as a former chief strategist at the white house suggested. so far there's been no indication from the white house. second of defense was asked about this. listen to what he said, jim. >> i was not willing to make certain troop deployments until we knew what was the strategy, what that that commitment going in. in that regard, the president has made the decision and he wants to be the one to announce it to the american people so i'll stand silent until that point. >> mattis saying that he is allowing the president to explain it to the american people. again, we don't know exactly
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what the president is going to explain. this has been the longest war in american history. shortly after the events of september 11th, the united states went into afghanistan and it's been quite a situation there ever since. >> boris sanchez there with the president. let's discuss now the president's upcoming speech, his options with my panel steven moore basil smykel. colonel, i'm going to start with you, if i can here. what options does the president have on afghanistan? >> i think his only option is, what level of american troops are going to be there, i don't think we're going to see any kind of withdrawal. i think the question is, are we going to insert u.s. combat forces back into afghanistan? right now we have a small cadre
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into the counter insurgency role to do that. the primary mission is this train advise and assist. we may see a shift away from that, and more focus on actual u.s. combat operations, we have to knock down this isis group that's operating southeast of jalalabad. following that, then we'll see where he wants to go with the rest of it. like everyone else looking forward to an articulation of some real policy now. >> to be clear, those forces have often gone outside the wire. do they expand that? ron brownsteen, one thing that's interesting about this, it's not unlike -- you can almost say it's identical to the situation barack obama faced early in his term, to send more troops there, how many, for how long, et cetera. it's interesting to see a president trump facing similar decisions to president obama
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very early in his term. >> and jim and even kind of more dramatic parallel, is from the nationalist right president trump was more critical than barack obama of american intervention in the middle east. he essentially said we spent trillions of dollars in afghanistan and iraq, and had essentially nothing to show for it, we would have been better off spending that money at home. this entire process on afghanistan is indicative of the tug of war he's faced on the foreign policy and trade side of the america first nationalism he ran on. he's likely even with steve bannon gone, to try to walk away from the tpp. in other ways he's been pulled toward a much more conventional republican convention, i'm guessing we're going to see something that splits that difference here tomorrow. >> you spent time with president
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trump. does he want to send more troops to afghanistan? >> no, he doesn't. >> this is i think ron nailed it, you have a division within the republican party right now, within the white house traditionally the republicans have been the tough on terrorism party and yet donald trump once described afghanistan as a stupid war. the fact that steve bannon is gone, and his voice isn't going to be as hivly influential as it was before. you know suggests that maybe we will see an infusion of some troops, it's not something i don't think that donald trump wants to do. >> would that be then in your view an abandonment of his campaign promises p.m. steve bannon as he was leaving was saying the trump presidency as
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we campaigned is over. >> i do think trump has to be true to the promises he made in the campaign. it's also true, the president has to be adaptable to those changes. we have had isis insurgencies in afghanistan that we all want to push back and i think trump could make the case if he wanted to, this is dmes to push back on the terrorism threat. >> let me ask you this question, you supported a different candidate in the presidential election. if the tables were turned and if it was hillary clinton who had to make this decision, what would you want a democratic president to do? send more troops? is the u.s. losing the war, does it need more resources, fewer resources?
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>> that's an interesting question. the real question is, do we have a strategy going in and coming out. are you making a case to the american people why we need to make this new surge. i think barack obama in the surge he articulated to the american people, there was some wariness. but a lot of voters felt comfortable. are voters really comfortable with donald trump's leadership? are they comfortable with the rationale he may provide tomorrow night for this surge. for potential to this increase in troops in the region? how is it connected to north korea, how is it connected to what's happened that we saw the other day in barcelona? i think a lot of it doesn't necessarily come down to strategy, i think it really comes down to a question of trust in the leadership of this president.
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>> we haven't heard the president's decision, if it's a few thousand troops, that would be a fraction of the surge that president obama ordered which was tens of thousands of troops. it got a lot of criticism for injecting the forces and putting a sell by date on when they would leave. but what military difference would a few thousand troops make in a battlefield that the u.s. has struggled with for some 16 years? >> well, if he sends a small number of troops he'll send them to a specific area. i think we might see him commit to going after this isis group in the southern part of the country. beefing up the training assist mission elsewhere. if we send additional u.s. combat forces there, it's going to be limited and have a limited scale. i don't think you're going to hear a withdrawal date. we learned the lesson about
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putting that on our withdrawals. >> if you have to do this, do it, but i think the american people would want an exit strategy as well. >> an exit strategy was the -- >> that's what obama -- >> i think there was just weariness, this has been a -- the longest war in american history. people want to know we're not going to have troops there another 16 years. >> 1%, if that. both the service members and their families who bear the deaths, the injuries, the separations. >> et cetera. ron brownstein, from a political perspective, i'm going to ask you to look at this straight as a political analyst. how does the american public respond to that, more troops -- these are ifs at this point. more troops going to america's longest war, it will inevitably lead to more deaths, more swrirs, more losses? more financial costs?
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how does the american public view that today. >> i think there are two separate questions. the first one is, by now, i think the american public believes there is no answer to afghanistan. there is no stabilizing of afghanistan, the only question. because of that, their instinct is less rather than more american involvement. if the president can make the case this is becoming a safe haven for isis to launch attacks against europe and the u.s., there will be time limited support for that, there is the second issue we were talking about a minute ago, the level of support for the president himself. i wrote on a couple weeks ago, you compare his approval rating to other presidents, then i was thinking about north korea, going all the way back to the cuban missile crisis, he's far lower than anyone's been michigan, wisconsin and pennsylvania. where his approval rating was
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far below his vote. particularly, if you look at those noncollege whites. in each state he was at least 20 points below his vote. which explodes the idea there has been no erosion in his base, there are two separate issues here, on the merits there would be some tolerance on the terrorist aside for the -- from the public for a deployment of limited scope. the president is operating on a shorter leash, on a narrower ledge than other presidents have been. there's such widespread doubt about his leadership. it's much more difficult to send young men and women to die when you have this approval rating. bob corker questioning donald trump's stability as a leader. echoed today by adam schiff. listen to his comments this
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morning. >> i certainly think there's an issue with the president's capability. some attribute of his character that makes him incapable of introspection and a broad understanding of what the country really needs. and i think it's a question that people are asking, what is going on with this president. what can explain this kind of behavior zm. >> before we go, i want to ask basil, and steven for their reaction to that question. do you have questions about the president's stability as a person, as a man, as a president and as a leader? >> i always say this, i'm not a pastor, i can't see into his heart, i have a lot of questions about his stability and the choices he's made as the leader of the free world. the racial enmeny we saw
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throughout his career and through his campaign last year, it doesn't end because steve bannon's no longer in the white house. i expect to see more of that even with the departure of steve bannon. it goes into this conversation about afghanistan. how much do the american people really have confidence in his leadership? that's an open question, and i don't think he's done anything in my opinion to put people at ease and asuage some of those concerns. >> the president's stability. you know him well. >> on this issue whether americans have confidence in his leadership, this election was about the economy and jobs, those are exploding right now. >> i know, in terms of his jobs performance, you're going to see a pick up because the economy is doing better. i must have read 6 or 7 articles in the major newspapers today, all wondering whether republicans in congress will stick with trump.
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i want to address that for one second. republicans have to stick with trump. they have to hang together here or the party will hang separately. i've been working on this tax cut which will be the big issue of debate. they have to get that passed. >> that's a nice pivot. bob corker, republican, raised the question of the president's stability. the president may send more american service members, more young american and women to die in afghanistan. do you have questions about the stability? >> none whatsoever, the american people knew what they were getting when they elected donald trump. i've been on the road for the last couple weeks when i'm talking to the conservatives, they are -- i don't see an erosion base, i really don't. >>. >> one at a time, guys. >> i know he has that anecdotal debate. >> in that polling today, in michigan, wisconsin and pennsylvania. at least one fifth of the people who voted for donald trump said they were embarrassed by his conduct as president.
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his approval rating is 17 points lower, somebody is getting off the train, maybe not the hardest of the hardcore, you do not get approval ratings in the mid-30s if everyone is still wrapping their arms around you. >> we need to be fair. we're going to have to leave it there please stay with us, and still ahead. north korea saying the united states is pouring gasoline on the fire. details ahead. hundred years of heritage, craftsmanship and innovation. today we're bringing you america's number one shave at lower prices every day. putting money back in the pockets of millions of americans. as one of those workers, i'm proud to bring you gillette quality for less,
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short hours for joint military exercises. north korea says those exercises are wreckless. warning they are bringing the two countries closer to nuclear war. elise, there had been some suggestion from russia and china about pushing these off as a concession to north korea. we're a couple hours away, they're going to go forward. >> the u.s. had said it was a nonstarter, they didn't want to reward north korea's bad behavior by giving them this concessi concession. i don't know if it's coincidence or what it is, there's always an up tick of activity with north korea a couple weeks before these exercises and north korea always says this is pouring gasoline on the fire, and there's always the question whether the u.s. is going to go ahead with these exercises or not, and what defense secretary mattis said today, north korea knows these are offensive,
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they're not invading. these are long term exercises going on for decades and we're going to go ahead. >> the red rick goes back and forth. missiles get launched. we haven't seen a real change in the general state of the threat from north korea, have we? >> not in terms of what north korea is doing. there's a threat from north korea due to this growing missile and nuclear program, and the idea they could have been able to master the delivery systems. that's where the real threat is. whether kim jong-un is more likely to use them or not, we don't know, certainly, you know, everyone -- the consensus is, he knows this would be suicidal if he were to launch a preemptive
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strike against the united states. on the other side, you know, you've had mattis and others say, you know, a preemptive strike on the north koreans would be catastrophic. you kind of have this mutually assured destruction, if you will, certainly a strike on the u.s. wouldn't be suicidal for the u.s. but neither side wants to ramp it up to action. >> the big question is, the trump administration, does it have a strategy for changing this march of north korea toward being a true nuclear power? elise lav it, thanks very much. there's more ahead on newsroom right after this short break. [laughs] ah... ahem... show me the carfax. start your used car search at the all-new
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steve mnuchin says he's not going anywhere. he made the statement due to an open letter from his classmates at yale. we call upon you as our friend, our classmate to resign in protest of president trump's support of naziism and white supremacy. we know you are better than this, and we are counting on you to do the right thing. president trump said he's ending his plans for an advisory council on infrastructure. he would rather disband to other business counsels rather than to pressure executives to stick around. trump blamed both sides for the violence in charlottesville last week. we're back with steven moore, a senior economics analyst.
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the u.s. got its businessman as president, donald trump on the campaign repeatedly advertised, boasted about his ties with prominent businessmen, i'm going to get them on board, and they're abandoning him now. >> let me address this issue with yale and steve mnuchin. for people at yale to be taking this moral high ground where you have a university that's squelched free speech that's a little rich -- >> i didn't ask about free speech. this is eel related to this, they say, anyone associated with donald trump should resign. we shouldn't have anyone working for him, i guess. >> as the ceo's resign, they didn't say anybody working for trump. >> no, i'm talking about mnuchin. >> the ceo's they specifically referenced smartsville in. >> yes. >> let me say this, i was part
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of trump's advisory council during the campaign. and these were people who were supporters of trump, one of the problems i think trump made, and i warned the white house of this, a lot of those people, if not most of the people on those business counsels, they were against trump, they were for hillary clinton, they were not big fans of trump. i warned that any time there was any opportunity to embarrass trump they would do that and run for the high grass, that's what they did. is this harmful to trump? >> you're saying all these ceo's left to embarrass trump? >> i'm saying they didn't stick with him at the first sign of trouble. that's what i anticipated would happen. >> could this be -- is this the first sign of trouble? in their statements they made heartfelt cases, it's their position it's not ours but they have a right to their position. they made statements about his comments on charlottesville not reflecting american values.
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>> the companies and ceo's have to reflect what's best for their companies. every man and woman on those counsels made their own personal decision i'm not going to judge them for that. the other interesting thing strks if you look at these companies. look at what's happened to the stocks. the stock market has been on this huge role. he's done a lot for these companies, i guess no good deed goes unpunished. what does this say about the president's ability to work with the business community. he was supposed to be the businessman in the white house. >> good question, i was hoping you would ask that. i haven't been on some of these economic councils. i can't tell you how many ceo's have called me and said, i'll join. if i were donald trump, i'd say, put people who are loyal to you, who want to advance your economic agenda, have a new council, but of people like earl ham, the great president of
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continental, i talked to him last week, he said, look, i want to represent donald trump, i still believe in his agenda. these people were 34u9 on the agenda to help trump physician out how to create jobs. this story keeps getting bigger. >> are you saying the president made a mistake to disband the councils? >> at this point he probably had to. i don't think he had any other -- the pressure on those who remained would be insurmountable. donald trump, if you're listening, have a new council, put people who were with you during the campaign, some of the great economic leaders of this country and get advice from them about how to steer this economy -- >> so only ceo's, he should only work with ceo's. >> i don't want to speak for them. i know for example fred smith, i don't know what his attitude is about what trump has said about
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charlottesville. he's expressed a lot of optimism and support for what trump wants to do with respect to tax cuts and deregulation. he's one of the great ceo's of the 20th century. so there's a guy who has a lot of stature, and i would like to see somebody like fred smith -- >> is it possible that the mistake here is not made by the ceo's but by the president about his comments in charlottesville? >> yeah, i do think he made a mistake. i don't think he's a racist. when i would go to the trump rallies around the country you would be surprised how many blacks and hispanics would show up there, trump has to find a way to reach out to black americans and tell them, i'm with you, i care about you. black unemployment is down under trump. he has to be much more sensitive to these concerns. and he didn't come off that way,
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and he dug himself into this hole. >> steven moore, thanks for taking the time this weekend. we'll have much more ahead in the newsroom. meet this week's cnn hero. michelle allen couldn't stand the idea of terminally ill dogs dying alone in shelters. she made it her mission to make sure they discover ed love befoe they died. >> this is the last stop for these dogs. >> hi, lucy, come on, sweetie. >> i don't want them missing out on anything because they didn't get adopted. >> for more on michelle or to nominate a hero of your own, visit cnn and we'll be right back. ♪
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president donald trump will address our troops and the american public tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. eastern time. he will provide an update on the path forward for america's engagement in afghanistan and south asia. ryan, we do not know yet what decision the president has made here, but can you give us a rough sense of the options on the table that his military leaders have presented him with for afghanistan, including increases in troop numbers? you. >> going all the way back to february, the general requested a few additional troops to help turn the tide and break the stalemate in afghanistan. the military has sought additional troops for afghanistan for some periods of time now. secretary of defense jim mattis
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addressing the afghan strategy review do not provide much insight into what options the president opted for, but he said he had been saying for weeks all options were on the table, including a full withdrawal. we heard some proposals that were put out by the former ceo and founder of black water that would use military contractors. that had been pushed by some in the administration. the secretary of defense did not tip his hand one way or the other on this. most people that think this was being pushed forward by the military had been some additional troops to provide more advice for the military. and the taliban. the pentagon saying all options were on the table as late as last week.
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interesting to see what the strategy is the president will roll out monday night. >> nothing on the order of tens of thousands of troops sent in as president obama did? >> the options are small -- the most likely options are considered a small increase, if that's the way the president has decided to go? >> that's right, i think the number we've heard the most from sources about 3,000 to 5,000 troops. a far cry from the 30,000 troops willing that president obama sent to afghanistan in his first year in office. mostly advisers that would embed with local units. not a major departure from the current strategy being pursued in afghanistan. and that troop increase as we talked about, had been requested all the way back in february by the commander in afghanistan. so this would be a small
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adjustment as opposed to a major strategic level shift if that were the option that is pursued. >> thanks very much. to be clear cnn will cover the president's comments live tomorrow at 9:00 eastern time. the decision expected on u.s. strategy and u.s. troop levels on afghanistan. here's to the heroes -- america's small business owners. and here's to the heroes behind the heroes, who use their expertise to keep those businesses covered. and here's to the heroes behind the heroes behind the heroes, who brought us delicious gyros.
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the events of charlottesville last weekend caused tensions to flair.
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president trump received a wave of backlash after delivering mixed messages on who was to blame for the violence. >> we condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. on many sides. >> i watched this very closely. much more closely than you people watched it, you had a group on one side that was bad. and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. and nobody wants to say that. but i'll say it right now. i think there's blame on both sides opinion you look at both sides. i think there's blame on both sides, and i have no doubt about it, and you don't have any doubt about it either. and -- and if you reported it accurately, you would say. >> neo-nazis started this -- they showed up in slarltsville. >> excuse me, excuse me -- and
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you had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. >> with me now are three religious leaders, rabbi rick jacobs, and reverend susan johnson cook. i want to thank all of you for coming. i feel like we need voices from across the spectrum. there's a big appetite, looking for a positive message here, a way forward. after these events of the past week, which frankly still linger. i'm curious, what are the messages each of you is delivering to your congregations in terms of finding a way forwa forward? >> sure. first of all, i just returned yesterday from charlottesville, where i had the opportunity to be with our congregation. and to tell you they're traumatized 1 do say the obvious, they're very clear that what happened last weekend was
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in esense a moral eclipse. when the president of the united states was unable to distinguish between right and wrong, between love and hate, between racism and unity, and what is distressing is that if you can't have that moral clarity, you can't actually discern the complicated issues. the message that i was able to share this friday night to this community. one of the oldest synagogues in virginia was that actually people of faith know what it means to have a moral view of the universe. and we're not confused between racism and love. and the religious leadership of that community stood together with love and clarity and light in the midst of that moral eclip eclipse. and was able to convey the way forward. we have to be clear that demonic hate expressed by the kkk and
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neo-nazis, they marched right around the synagogue and chanting anti-semitic slogans. we are called for moral discertainment. we must understand that white supremacy is not just a horrific rally in charlottesville. it's embedded in much of the policies in our government. we have real work to do and people of faith don't need to only pray but we need to raise our voice with love and clarity, and we hope the president of the united states will be able to be the moral leader. abraham lincoln called upon america to be in touch with the better angels of their nature. that's what a president is supposed to say, to bring those better angels so we could be the country that we are meant to be.
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>> reverend cook, if i could ask you, it was strike to many today that tim scott questioned the president's moral authority in his w0rds. i wonder if you share that concern. >> he's not alone in those thoughts whatsoever. >> you look at the civil rights movement, it was born in the black church. we've been insulted fp # he says there were bad people on both sides. i'm in chautauqua institute in upstate new york people from every de nomination across the board. i talked today about jewish women who took a stand from what was rightfully theirs.
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everyone has the right to speak and they have the right to be heard. we need leadership that's not going to be insightful in terms of insighting riots. but going deeper and understanding the leadership. >> if i could ask you, because, of course, muslims have sadly been an early target of the president's campaign. ending muslim immigration, the attacks on the father of -- a gold star father as well, and some of that an mouse has continued in the president's public comments since he entered the white house. how do you speak to your congregations in a way that listen, i imagine it's easy to find anger and resentment. how do you speak to them about a
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way forward? >> by looking at this and explaining muslims come from -- they're domestic and immigrants. that the real issue here is that we have to accept the framework that this is terrorism. that this event that happened last week and -- it was a form of terrorism. and that terrorism takes place all over the world. so we're having our american form of terrorism, but muslims, no matter where they are, they're attacked by other forms of terrorism in their own place, their countries of origin as well as here. and so it's important for them to understand that, that's not the only thing to show anger as you said a moment ago, but they have to understand it's building coalitions with other religious groups and other types of
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moveme movements, as a way we move forward so we make certain all of our human rights are being taken care of, and the authorities themselves understand that to try to separate us is the wrong way to do things and to make certain we can work together so that we can all prosper here. >> let me ask you this question. >> part of the problem -- >> complete your thought, i don't want to interrupt you. >> i was going to say, i totally agree. >> the way that he was -- the president was saying the things that there were good people on both sides yes that may be true to a certain extent, but there were those that were opposing people of a different view. i think he was misguided in making that statement. there's a lot of curiosity out there about what can i do. what can an individual do to
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improve the discourse just the state of emotion in this country. i wonder before i go, and i'll start with you, rabbi, reverend, one thing that you say to your congregations that they could do to improve the atmosphere, to make a difference, a small difference, but to make a difference. i'll begin with you? >> sure, i think the key is not to return hate for hate. return love and strength and justice, the opposite of hate is love. and we as faith communities do that every day to care for one another, to stand with faith leaders like my colleagues on this segment. to stand loud and clear in the public square. and when there's an absence of moral clarity coming from the leader of this great country. we must be those voices and every day we can be those forces for light. i would give the beautiful image there are two mountains, one is
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covered with green, mount ibal is desolate and baron. one is blessing, one is curse. distinguish between the curse and the blessing. that's what we do every day. when we do it with more backbone and love we start to reshape the public square. the light will ultimately prevail. >> reverend a quick thought for what folks at home can do to make a difference. >> we have to join together. yesterday i wrote a letter that was published in the huff post to heather's mother, susan, from susan to susan. i think we have to remember that a life was lost in the midst of all this, and to not just keep going, but understand we have sympathy and empathy and to be
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the void where our president isn't acting right, and we must be that voice and fill that void. >> imam, you get the final word? >> i think that was the -- the process is education. find a way in which you can talk and find our similarities, from there we can reeducate them to understand that we are similar in so many ways, our differences are really a blessing so we can see the full spectrum of what our human natures are being. >> we can only hope voices like yours are elevated. i appreciate you taking the time to talk to us today. >> thank you for having us. >> thank you. more ahead in the newsroom after this short break.
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americans are gearing up for monday's once in a century total eclipse of the sun. miguel marquez is joining us from one of the places in this path, in portland, oregon, what do people need to know before watching this. to catch it all as much as they can, but also. >> to protect themselves. >> the biggest thing is on any day, when you want to stare at the sun, do not stare directly at the sun, unless you have solar filters either on b binocul binoculars. you can see sunspots on it, or you have protective glasses. these are what protective glasses look like that will
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protect you from the sun. that's what sunglasses look like. those you can sort of see through, those are regular sunglasses. the protective glasses for the eclipse they look like reflective glasses, but you cannot see a thing unless you're staring directly at the sun. at 9:05 eastern time it will race through 12 different states. at some points that shadow, that 70 mile wide shadow of the moon crossing the u.s. will race at about 4500 miles an hour, slowing down at certain points as it catches, as the sun catches up to the moon, it's going to be pack ed the path of totality is where everyone is packing in to see the corona and the moon completely blocking the
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sun. the last time we had a total coast to coast eclipse like this, was 1918. >> you were in high school then i think as i remember. >> i saw -- i'm sure, 20 years ago i saw a full eclipse, it is eerie, other worldly, you get this light that seems sort of end of days, not quite nighttime, but not daytime, it's pretty remarkable. >> it is an incredible moment, i saw within in mexico many years ago, standing on a pyramid on an indigenous pyramid there. there were drums, the people get so excited, it's bizarre, the birds start to quiet down, the animals act like it's nighttime. the stars come out in the middle of the day, it's amazing. and millions of people are going to be watching it, it's going to be cool. >> you're lucky to be there in the middle of the path. we'll be watching you from
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there. miguel, one of many reporters and crews we have spread throughout the country to catch this once in a lifetime event. thanks for watching so much this afternoon be sure to stick around as we prepare to hear from the president tomorrow night at 9:00 eastern time. expecting a decision on afghan troop levels right here on cnn. you can watch it, but for now, cnn newsroom continues with anna cabrera. hello, you are in the cnn newsroom. we begin with a major announcement from the white house. this major address comes as brand new polling reveals the president is underwater in some key states that propelled him to the white house. wisconsin, pennsylvania and michigan his


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