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Vice President Mike Pence Is Just Across The Border In Seoul, South Korea; U.S. National Security Advisor Lieutenant General H.R. Mcmaster Is In Kabul, Afghanistan; Cleveland Police Are On The Hunt For Man Who Allegedly Just Killed Another Man On Facebook Live; Manhunt for a live shooter in Cleveland, Ohio; North Korea's failed missile launch; Battle for Georgia's Congressional seat; Trump on defending stance on China. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired April 16, 2017 - 16:00   ET


[16:00:00] SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He believes in a lot of the same ideals as the fascist movement. And you see the violence coming from that side, and also from the antifascist movement, the far left where you can see them dressed in head to toe black to protect themselves but also protect themselves from being identified knowing that they are going into these events to become violent.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. They are going for war, and that seems to be the primary focus.

Sara Ganim, thank you for that.

The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts now.

Hello, I'm Martin Savidge. Fredricka Whitfield is off. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Members of the Trump administration are traveling internationally this Easter in search of a diplomatic solution on North Korea. One day after staging an elaborate military parade, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un attempted to launch another missile but it fizzled out seconds later.

Vice president Mike Pence is just across the border in Seoul, South Korea. And in a speech to South Korean troops he said that the alliance between the two countries has never been stronger.

And U.S. National security advisor lieutenant general H.R. McMaster is in Kabul, Afghanistan telling the media that h His first remarks here on the ground in South Korea was in and around having Easter dinner with U.S. troops e would be exploring a full range of options.

Lots to discuss here. And we have the team to discuss it. CNN's correspondent, Elise Labott is in Washington and CNN senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh is in Irbil, Iraq.

Elise, first to you. President Trump's top security advisor H.R. McMaster responding to North Korea's failed missile launch just hours after it occurred. Here, take a listen.


LT. GEN. H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: All options are on the table undergoing refinement and further development.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And how close do you think North Korea is to having a nuclear weapon capable of reaching the United States?

MCMASTER: Well, you know, estimates in these sorts of things vary widely. What is clear, as long as their behavior continues, as long as they continue, missile development, even though it was a failed missile, they get better and they learn lessons. And so, what's critical is for them to stop this destabilizing behavior, stop the development of these weapons and denuclearize.


SAVIDGE: Elise, military action not off the table but that's got to be last resort, right?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Certainly there are military options that the U.S. can take. But you know, the consequences of the retaliation by North Korea are really --

SAVIDGE: You know what, Elise? We are going to let you fix that mic situation.

And in the meantime, let me turn quickly now to Nick Paton Walsh. We will come back to Elise.

President Trump's top security advisor was in Afghanistan today. And he met with the president to talk about security issues. There are plenty of them to be discussed. What are you learning about their conversations?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Doesn't at this point appear conversations are yielding any actual obvious change in policy. They are conducting what's referred to as quote a full strategy review of U.S. policy there. And obviously that's something Barack Obama had to do when he inherited the war from George Bush in 2008.

And Ashraf Ghani, the Afghan president after meeting General McMaster talked about the big threats they currently face with terrorism. And have it confronted now, it could last five more generations.

A two-pronged problem really. There is the decades-old issue, the Taliban insurgency, which the U.S. is trying, frankly, everything. Trying everything at it. Political negotiations, hundreds of thousands of troops that haven't really managed to turn a security situation around. And now things are more complicated too by sort of an insurgency within the in insurgency of ISIS who had the mother of all bombs dropped on the MOAB GBU43 in the last week. It is an awesome display of American firepower that killed apparently over 90 ISIS militants. And perhaps heralded new options on the table for the U.S. military there. But the actual game in Afghanistan has not changed at all. It's only gotten worse and worse - Martin. SAVIDGE: Which is quite striking given the length of how this

conflict has gone up.

Nick Paton Walsh, thank you for that.

Let's get back to Elise Labott.

Elise, we were talking about North Korea. We were talking about U.S. options. And I was asking you whether the military option was really there or is it a last resort?

LABOTT: I mean clearly it is last resort, Marty. That's not like the U.S. doesn't have a military option. They could take out, for instance, one of the launch pads where North Korea launches these missiles. They have, you know, you use the mother of all bombs, the MOAB, last week in Afghanistan. But there is also something called the mop which is really a bunker buster bomb that in fact, you know, the U.S. could use in that North Korean mountain side where they have those underground test being sites.

But you know, clearly the retaliation that North Korea could unleash, a conventional attack on South Korea, a thousands of U.S. troops there is really unthinkable. And that's why General McMaster said that, you know, this is really the last resort.

I want to play a little bit more of what he said on ABC this morning.


[16:05:06] LT. GEN. H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: This problem is coming to a head, so it is time for us to undertake all actions we can short of a military option to try to resolve this peacefully.


LABOTT: So what does that mean? I mean clearly, you know, diplomatic efforts with China and the other allies, more of these economic squeezing of North Korea really trying to deny it of all areas of revenue that they can use to build up their program. So I think you are going to see a lot more stepped-up sanctions, economic sanctions, diplomatic efforts. But clearly the military option is the least favorable.

SAVIDGE: Elise, the president seemed to tweet this morning that he was perhaps still waiting on something from China. Is that a possibility?

LABOTT: Well, clearly, Marty, China is the linchpin in the U.S. strategy. I mean you have seen President Trump's, you know, strategy on China kind of evolve since he took office. At first he was really tough on China. Now you see kind of a carrot and stick approach with China. You know, he had this meeting with president Xi in Mar-a-Lago. They seem to have a good relationship that they are building. But President Trump, as the administration has been reviewing the policy on North Korea, finds that, you know, they have never really had the maximum Chinese leverage. And so, that's what they really want. You know, all efforts are really at getting China to crack down on North Korea and whether that's denying them cash, whether that's denying them trade. China holds 85 percent of North Korean trade. Whether that's denying them oil. I think you are going to see a lot more efforts on China, and that's - you know, the carrot is that President Trump is offering president Xi more favorable trade concessions. And he also said, you know, that he is willing to reconsider labeling China a currency manipulator. So those are the carrots. And what's the stick? The stick is that the U.S. is preparing options to sanction Chinese companies, Chinese banks that do business with North Korea.

So I think they are hoping that China will become a more constructive partner, and that's why you have heard President Trump say in the last few days. But they are ready to kind of put pressure on China if they don't play ball, Marty.

SAVIDGE: China is key, without a doubt.

Elise Labott, thanks very much. Also thanks to Nick Paton Walsh as well.

We are learning more about North Korea's failed missile test. U.S. officials are saying the missile blew up almost immediately after leaving the launch pad. The test came shortly before vice president Mike Pence arrived in South Korea.

CNN's Will Ripley is in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang and he has more.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Most North Koreans will never know about Sunday's failed missile launch. That missile test fired from the eastern coastal city of Sinpo, home to a North Korean submarine base and the same location where Kim Jong-un tried to launch a missile just last week ahead of President Trump's meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping. North Korea's supreme leader showed force over the weekend at the nation's day of the sun military parade.

We saw a variety of new missiles that were on display, including what analysts are two new kinds of potential intercontinental ballistic missiles that could eventually carry a nuclear warhead toward the mainland of the United States which we know is the goal of North Korea's leader. They want these weapons of mass destruction for self- preservation, to protect their natural sovereignty from what they view as the imminent threat of attack and invasion by the United States and its allies.

U.S. vice president Mike Pence was in the region. He spoke with U.S. troops for Easter Sunday service, briefly talking about the North Korean situation but not indicating that there will be any kind of specific U.S. response to this failed launch. U.S. officials saying that why would they invest resources talking about a failed launch. However, if there is something more provocative such as a sixth nuclear test which analysts believe could happen any time in North Korea, that may force the United States to take some kind of action.

So there still is the potential for the situation to escalate. The question here, timing. Will North Korea try to launch missiles while the U.S. vice president is in the region? Will they wait until the 25th of April, a major military anniversary here in North Korea? Or maybe it will be neither one of those days. That is the thing with North Korea when it comes to these kinds of provocative acts. It is not a matter of "if, but when.

Will Ripley, CNN, Pyongyang, North Korea.


SAVIDGE: South Korea is America's closest ally in the region. We have about 28,000 troops station there had. It also has the most to lose (INAUDIBLE) those in the conflict with the north. There are tens of millions of people who are within striking distance of the North Korean border, primarily from artillery.

I want to bring in CNN's Paula Hancocks who is in Seoul, South Korea.

And Paula, the south has been living with threats from the north up for decades. Is this latest saber rattling creating a renewed sense of urgency?

[16:10:02] PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not really, Marty. It is interesting having lived here for some years now. South Koreans are really quite resilient to this kind of threat. They know that a conflict is possible, that they have lived with this threat of conflict for many years now. But it is a distant threat to most people. If you walk out on the streets of Seoul, you would have no idea that this is going on at this point. In fact, a lot of people probably wouldn't even have known that there was this failed missile launch on Sunday morning local time. And the fact of that is, you take a look at since the beginning of last year, there has been almost three dozen missile launches.

So this is just a reality that South Koreans live with. Remember that the country's still technically at war with its northern neighbor. There was never a peace treaty signed, only an armistice. So really there is a sense of much of the same.

There is one difference though, and that's not from North Korea. That's actually from the United States, the unknown for many South Koreans is what will U.S. President Trump do about this. And obviously, that has a little more uncertainly for many people here. They have lived with the threat from the north for many, many decades that they haven't lived with this reality that there is open talk of all options being on the table. But not just that. Obama administration said that as well. But open speculation and illusion and hinting from the Trump administration that the military option could be an option. Now, we are hearing that it is the last option obviously, but there is certainly more talk about it than it used to be.

SAVIDGE: No. It is an excellent point to make. And it may be part of the reason the vice president is there in South Korea to sort of reassure the people and leaders of South Korea.

Paula Hancocks, thank you very much.

Earlier I spoke with former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson who has negotiated with North Korea on several occasions. And I asked him if he thought that Korean leader Kim Jong-Un was different than his father and grandfather who ruled the country before him.


BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR: Yes, he is different. He is totally unpredictable. With the father you could eventually make a deal. You know, bargaining chip. He had taken American prisoner or he would provoke the United States with missile tests. In exchange, he would take a deal where he would get food and energy assistance. You could work something out with him for the release of an American prisoner.

With Kim Jong-Un, you don't know what he is going to do. He doesn't talk with foreign leaders. He seems isolated. He is worried about his own internal stature within the country. He perjures members of his inner circle. Nobody seems to know what he is up to, what he wants to do, possibly except the Chinese. But I think the Chinese need to get in there and talk to him and pressure him and talk to him about engagement. I think they are our best chance right now, but don't count on it.


SAVIDGE: Arizona governor Bill Richardson.

We will be right back.


[16:17:13] SAVIDGE: Hello. I'm Martin Savidge in CNN center in Atlanta.

Breaking news. CNN has learned that Cleveland police are on the hunt for man who allegedly just killed another man on Facebook live. He claims to have killed others. Police say the suspect's name, and they are releasing his identity, is Steven Stevens. And they are focusing their search for the moment right now in the area of 635 east 93rd. That's on the east side of Cleveland, obviously.

Police consider the suspect armed and dangerous. He is described as being 6'1", roughly 244 pounds, bald with a full beard wearing a dark blue and gray or black striped polo shirt. He is believe to be driving a white or cream colored SUV. Cleveland police warning people not to approach this man if you see him but to ask that you call 911 immediately.

Again, this is based upon Cleveland police reports that there was a murder that took place on Facebook live and that the suspect has claimed to kill others. We will continue to follow developments here and bring them to you as we learn them. Meanwhile, vice president Mike Pence landed in South Korea this

morning mere hours after the failed launch of a missile by the north.

CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash is the only network correspondent that's traveling with the vice president in Seoul.

Dana, how is Pence responding today?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Vice president Mike Pence was on his plane, on air force two, on his way here to South Korea when he got word about North Korea's failed missile test. It was actually within an hour of taking off after refueling in Alaska that he was told his advisors came back and told those of us reporters on his plane that it failed within four or five seconds of the attempt, and that's why they made clear that they were not going to make a big deal out of it, that the response was going to be very much to down play it.

And that's certainly what we saw from the vice president himself. His first remarks here on the ground in South Korea was in and around having Easter dinner with U.S. troops. And he talked vaguely about what happened.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This morning's provocation from the north is just the latest reminder of the risks each one of you face every day in the defense of the freedom of the people of South Korea and the defense of America in this part of the world.


BASH: Now, that's a far cry from the really tough talk we have seen and heard from the president, President Trump, both in his words before cameras and on twitter over the past week or so being very aggressive vis-a-vis North Korea.

But the vice president and his aides are making very clear that they don't think that that is appropriate for several reasons. One is they don't want to give the North Koreans the satisfaction of reacting or maybe overreacting, particularly because this was a failed test and kind of an embarrassment for the North Korean regime. But also because they understood making their way here, for the vice president of the United States to be on the Korean peninsula at this tense time. And also a day after North Korea's biggest holiday of the year where they like to show their military might, according to an aide traveling with the vice president. This was not a matter of if but a matter of when. And had there been a nuclear missile test and not something that clearly was not of that ilk, the U.S. reaction and action could be quite different.

Dana Bash, CNN, Seoul, South Korea.

[16:20:52] SAVIDGE: And back to that breaking news we told you about just a short while ago, CNN has learned that Cleveland police are on the hunt for a man who allegedly just killed another man on Facebook live. He claims to have killed others. The police say that the suspect's name is Steve Stephens. They are focusing their search on the east side of Cleveland, east 93rd. Police consider the suspect armed and dangerous, described as 6'1", roughly 244 pounds, bald with a full beard, wearing a dark blue and grey or black striped polo shirt. He is believed to be driving a white or cream colored SUV.

Cleveland police are warning anyone if you are in that area not to approach the man but to call 911 immediately.

Let's bring in Tom Fuentes now who is our law enforcement expert.

Tom, this is one of those sad statements of social media and the age in which we live that appears that maybe he had a platform to carry out some kind of an attack. But what are police doing at this moment now as they deal with this circumstance?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think right now they are just trying to, you know, flood that area with as many officers, patrol officers, as possible, as well as trying to contact other family members, friends, colleagues, everyone that they can figure out, again, using partly his social media and the fact that they have his identity to try to see if anybody out there can say anything about where he might be.

SAVIDGE: You know, it's terrifying actually to think that somebody would carry out a murder or any kinds of an attack with the idea of broadcasting it, which this may be a case of. I'm wondering, are police departments more and more monitoring social media much like they might monitor, I don't know, radio reports or other incoming Intel?

FUENTES: Well, in a way, Martin, they are not in a position to really monitor everybody out there. There is just too much social media and too few officers and analysts to be able to do that. But when something like this happens, and they get word of it, whether it is someone who is on Facebook and did see this and immediately called the police, or someone that knew this person and gave his identity, then, yes, they are in a position to monitor it.

You see more and more where police departments use social media both ways where they make announcements on social media. They tell people to -- you go shelter in place or whatever it might be when there is a major incident. And they are using social media. But the actual ability to completely monitor everybody that's out there is impossible.

SAVIDGE: So, in this particular case, as you mentioned, flooding the streets there, flooding that neighborhood with police officers, I presume maybe a SWAT team is ready, if not already on the way. But beyond that, what else can you do?

FUENTES: Well, again, the contact with as many citizens as possible that could be in a position to get information. You know, whoever has been watching his live feed on Facebook might have an idea where he is at or where he has been as he has made this broadcast. And you know, can give police a better idea of where to conduct their search and where to focus.

SAVIDGE: It also, I presume, provides them with evidence already. I mean they have clear indications -- I haven't seen it, but clear indications perhaps of a crime committed.

FUENTES: I think so. I think, you know, obviously it's evidentiary at the end of the investigation. But as of now, they need to catch him. That's the main thing, is to stop this. So, you know, it's very interesting. You know, we have had these active shooter situations in schools, hospitals, college campuses. But to have an act of shooter situation where the shooter is mobile and is broadcasting it while doing the shootings, while driving around, this adds a new element of difficulty in trying to locate the person who in fact is mobile.

SAVIDGE: And then on top of that, I guess you always have to take into account that there could be more than one person.

FUENTES: Well, that's always, you know, always a possibility. Although in this case, it sounds like someone who is probably extremely ill, extremely disturbed, and wants -- and is also very narcissistic. They want this attention. They want all the focus or glory in their own mind to be theirs alone.

So I think that there's probably less probability in this case that this would be an organized group attack compared to one individual who wants to bask in this all by himself.

[16:25:19] SAVIDGE: What struck me also is the fact that immediately, Cleveland police put out a name. Sometimes when it comes to suspects they tend to wait and reveal. But in this case they clearly have a person who they think or know is extremely dangerous and the idea being that anybody who knows him, please, either get away from him or give us a call.

FUENTES: Yes. We may learn later that the police got a call from someone who alerted them to this live feed and it was someone who knew this guy. So to me, that's probably what happened, is that they got a call which maybe even initiated the entire investigation from someone who knew this individual and identified him, or he may have identified himself in these Facebook broadcasts. We haven't seen all of the streaming video that he has made. But he may have already indicated, this is me and look what I'm doing.

SAVIDGE: There are a lot of ways that we enjoy social media, but this is a clear example of the negative connotations that can come with it. And there are many others we have seen other time. But I'm just wondering as a person in law enforcement how you balance between what people sharing and the ugly and bad things they share as well?

FUENTES: Well, it's very difficult because as you mentioned, there are many bad aspects of social media, including false information that goes out, including hoaxes, which you know, I think in this case the fact that the Cleveland police, it sounds like they are verifying that they do have a homicide victim which may match, you know, from these Facebook broadcasts. But, yes, there's many negative aspects. But I think in this case for him, it is going to be one of those live

by the sword, die by the sword, because I think social media is going to play large part in the group of people that he has been in contact with in the past and possibly today that will help the police actually track him down.

SAVIDGE: All right, CNN law enforcement expert Tom Fuentes, thank you very much.

And just so everyone knows, we are talking about what is believed to be a shooter in Cleveland, Ohio that posted to Facebook live what authorities are saying may be a murder. And they are trying to find this person right away.

We will take a break. We are back with more after this.


[16:30:00] MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NEWSROOM SHOW HOST: We want to continue to update you on the breaking news we're following. CNN has learned that Cleveland police are on the hunt for a man who allegedly just killed a man and uploaded the video to Facebook. The suspect claims to have killed others but police are not able to verify that yet. Police are naming the suspect. He's Steve Stephens and the search is ongoing in the area of East 93rd street.

Police consider the suspect armed and dangerous. He is described as 6'1", roughly 244 pounds, bald with a full beard wearing a dark blue and grey or black striped polo shirt. He's believed to be driving a white or cream colored vehicle. Cleveland police warning not to approach this man but call 911 immediately. We'll continue to of course follow this breaking news and bring you updates as they become available.

Moving on now to the subject of North Korea. U.S. officials say that the missile that North Korea fired blew up almost immediately after it left its launch pad. The test came shortly before Vice President Mike Pence arrived in South Korea. So, let's talk more about the North Korea situation with our panel. And joining me is political analyst Ellis Henican, Alice Stewart, and I should point out she is a CNN political commentator and a republican strategist, and then also with me, Julian Zelizer, a historian and professor at Princeton University.

So Julian, let me start with you. The president's national security advisor says that all options are on the table as the U.S. considers how to respond to this attempted missile launch by the North. Does it appear that the administration has a clear strategy, I guess, on how to handle this tense situation?

JULIAN ZELIZER, HISTORIAN AND PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: It seems like there's three strategies. One is more provocative from the president himself with more bluster and threats of military action. The "all options on the table" is saying that this administration hasn't clearly come down on something yet, but is willing to move from diplomacy to war if necessary. And Vice President Pence today tried a different track where he calmed

things down and didn't respond really to the provocation. So, I'm not sure the administration has a laid-out plan and I think there might be internal debates going on in the Oval Office about how this should unfold.

SAVIDGE: If this was meant to be a message it seems to have failed and failed spectacularly bad for North Korea because of the fact that that missile failed. This morning Representative Ed Royce was on CNN's "State Of The Union" and he raised the possibility that North Korea could soon be able to strike the U.S. with a nuke, and that's of course a huge concern. Take a listen.


REP. ED ROYCE (R), CALIFORNIA: We shouldn't take too much comfort because even in failure, this program continues to advance and they will be closely in the not-too-distant future in a position where they could hit all 50 states in the United States with an ICBM. So I do say don't take too much comfort in this, but it is a good development that it failed.


SAVIDGE: Alice, not wanting North Korea to have that capability has been the red line for just about every recent administration. How should this administration respond? Is the military option realistic or are there other ways to prevent this, and can you really prevent it from happening at all as far as having the ability to launch this attack?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Martin, what we've learned obviously is that President Obama's strategic patience policy failed and it did not work.

[16:35:04] North Korea continues its nuclear weapons program and I think what's good is that President Trump is at least on the front end trying to encourage China to put some influence on North Korea to halt their weapons program. And if not, he's made it quite clear the United States will go it alone. Obviously we have the concerns about missiles coming to the United States, but our allies in that region, Japan and South Korea, we need to step up for them as well.

And I think it's important that we stress "all options are on the table." Obviously, military action would be the last resort. But there are many other ways to go about doing it. Economic sanctions and diplomatic sanctions and I think working with China is the best way to go about that.

SAVIDGE: Ellis, the vice president is there in South Korea holding talks and of course showing support for allies in the region. And the administration's been talking tough saying, as we've said, that you know, the military option is one possibility. Is this maximum pressure and engagement strategy likely to work with a nation that is as rogue as North Korea? ELLIS HENICAN, POLITICAL ANALYST: Not much evidence of that yet. You

guys understand, right, that these are just platitudes, right? All option on the table, maybe we'll go it alone. They don't actually mean anything in the absence of some clear strategy and you know, the strategies are going at all different directions.

The president hasn't articulated a anything. You do get the sense that with Vice President Pence's arrival in South Korea that the grown-ups have arrived on the scene a little bit. But don't confuse that with any well thought-out strategy.

SAVIDGE: Julian, I've asked this question before and I don't want to stress it too much and say that this is kind of like the missiles of October and what President Kennedy may have faced. But is there any lesson to be drawn from history on this?

ZELIZER: Well sure. In that case, calmer deliberation was extremely important from the president of the United States. When faced with this confrontation over missiles in Cuba in 1962, what we've learned is his ability to think through not only what the options are, but how each option would play out was essential. And I think there are many concerns that it's not simply whether the North Koreans will have the capacity to strike here, but what will happen with other alternatives.

If we trigger a conventional war with South Korea, for example, and I think what we learned from presidential leadership circa 1962 is the president has to be very deliberative, thoughtful and have a long-term sense of how the different options will play out before making statements and before responding to provocation.

SAVIDGE: Right. The message has to be clear. Ellis Henican, Alice Stewart, and Julian Zelixer, thank you all.

HENICAN: Thank you.

STEWART: Thank you Martin.

SAVIDGE: We want to continue to update you now on the breaking news that we're following. This manhunt under way in Cleveland, Ohio for Steve Stephens who Cleveland police say allegedly killed a man and uploaded the video to Facebook. The suspect also claims to have killed others but police are not able to verify that yet.

Police say Stevens is armed and dangerous. He is described as 6'1", roughly 244 pounds. He's bald with a full beard and was said to be wearing a dark blue and grey or black striped polo shirt. He is believed to be driving a white or colored cream vehicle. And we will continue to monitor this breaking news and bring you more as we learn it.


SAVIDGE: Hard to believe but it's been 10 years since CNN launched the "CNN Heroes" project to help recognize every day people making a difference. Now, some schools are incorporating the campaign into their classrooms, including this fifth grade teacher. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIAN O'CONNOR, FIFTH GRADE TEACHER: Throughout our school year we will set up several Skype calls with various heroes.


O'CONNOR: They're a celebrity to my kids and as they should be. The kids come up with amazing questions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How long did it take you --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How is it different --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you ever feel --

O'CONNOR: When I see how excited that fifth-grader is, it makes me realize that, you know, we're doing something right in here.


SAVIDGE: That is fabulous. Well, to learn more or to nominate someone, visit

Moving on to other news, the neat red state of Georgia could soon turn a little more blue. We're talking about the battle to fill the congressional seat that was vacated by President Trump's Secretary of Health & Human Services, Tom Price. CNN's Polo Sandoval has the latest on this very high-profile congressional race.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pay close attention to a political battle that's brewing in the suburban heart of Georgia's sixth congressional district. At stake is more than Republican Tom Price's seat in Congress. It's a chance to put more blue in the red state.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a real opportunity to flip our district.


SANDOVAL: Democrats and progressive groups believe the shifting demographics in the south could help them retake control of the House come mid-term season, pinning their hopes on 30-year-old former congressional aide and filmmaker, John Ossoff. The Democrat became a surprise front-runner for the vacancy left by Price when he was picked to head the Department of Health & Human Services. Georgia's Republican Party sees a challenge in Ossoff. They are working through the weekend in a final push for any of their 11 candidates.

RYAN MAHONEY, SPOKESMAN, GEORGIA REPUBLICAN PARTY: This election is much bigger than just the sixth district. Democrats are desperately searching for relevancy after being trounced in November and they're looking at this race as an opportunity to prove that they still have a heartbeat and I think Georgia Republicans are working around the clock to prove them wrong.

SANDOVAL: A Republican win in a predominantly red region like Georgia's sixth congressional district would be reassuring for Republicans and their control of the House. For Democrats, however, that may provide an opportunity for them to capitalize on this growing anti-Trump sentiment across the country.

[16:45:00] The question experts are asking though, would that translate to votes?

ANDREA GILLESPIE, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, EMORY UNIVERSITY: Part of that litmus test is to see whether or not President Trump has cache, whether or not he's a liability to Republican candidates in this district, and whether or not it appears that people are supporting Democratic candidates out of the sense of opposition to President Trump and his policies.

SANDOVAL: Political science professor Andrea Gillespie calls Georgia's special election the perfect litmus test for each party, a chance to gauge how voters will feel ahead of the mid-terms.

GILLESPIE: For both sides, it's important that their infrastructure be in place, that they be doing the shoe-leather politics, the phone calls, the canvassing that needs to happen in order to get people to turn out to vote.

SANDOVAL: The result of the election will determine if Democrats drummed up enough support or if Republicans can stop their attempt to turn district six blue. Polo Sandoval, CNN, Cobb County, Georgia.

SAVIDGE: Coming up, Donald Trump blasted China on the campaign trail, but has since done a complete 180 as president, suggesting today that his about-face is a strategic move. We'll talk about that next.


SAVIDGE: North Korea attempted to launch another missile today. It failed. Senator John McCain said that it's about time that North Korea's biggest ally step up and help avoid further escalation.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: China is the key. China is the key. They can stop this if they want to because of their control over the North Korean economy. This guy in North Korea is not rational. His father and his grandfather were much more rational than he is.


SAVIDGE: As the U.S. looks for China's help on North Korea, President Trump has also been softening his criticism of China. Just this morning he was tweeting why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem? We will see what happens. CNN's Matt Rivers explains the change of tone.

(BEGIN VIDOC CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: China, which has been ripping us off, the greatest abuser in the history of this country. China is responsible for nearly half of our entire trade deficit.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That was candidate Trump. But there's been a stark about-face from President Trump in just the last week on one of his favorite campaign targets -- China. Remember when he said he'd label China a currency manipulator on day one of his presidency? It didn't happen. And now he says they're not manipulating the Renminbi.

And then there's North Korea. Trump consistently blasted China from failing to stop Kim Jong-Un's nuclear weapons program. Now this.


TRUMP: We have a very big problem in North Korea. And as I said, I really think that China is going to try very hard and has already started.


RIVERS: So, what changed?


TRUMP: I have really gotten to like and respect, as you know, President Xi is a terrific person. Spent a lot of time together in Florida and he's a very special man.


RIVERS: The new day taunt (ph) appears to have started in the sunny confines of Mar-a-Lago at the crucial first in-person meeting between Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping on April 6th. Trump said talking with Xi helped change his mind on China's ability to handle North Korea.

"After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it's not so easy," the president told the "Wall Street Journal." Trump went on to praise China for banning North Korean coal imports, a move China actually made back in February.


TRUMP: The vast amount of coal that comes out of North Korea going to China, they've turned back the boats.


RIVERS: The apparent ability of Xi Jinping to connect with Donald Trump is unexpected, if not remarkable, given that both men appear to be polar opposites. One is the brash attention seeking New York media personality, the other a scripted, enigmatic leader who has never given a face to face interview as a president, someone who steadily rose through China's Communist Party ranks consolidating power in a way not seen here since the days of Chairman Mao.

Speeches like this one at the World Economic Forum in Davos help give Xi the air of an international statesman from China's economic prowess has forced many world leader to pay homage. Xi's global term offensive seems to have at least temporarily worked on Donald Trump, but there are signs it won't last.

Trump's strike against Syria and threats of military action against North Korea has alarmed China. Xi even called trump this week asking for a peaceful solution to the crisis. And despite that coal import ban, China's total trade volume with North Korea is actually up nearly 40 percent in 2017 -- figures sure not to sit well with the Trump administration.

But a nuclear North Korea appears to have bridged the divide for now. Two very different leaders with budding cooperation over a common threat. MATT RIVERS, CNN, Beijing.

SAVIDGE: And that is it for me. Thank you very much for watching. I'm Martin Savidge. The next hour of "CNN Newsroom" is just ahead.

But first we got a preview of Thursday night's premier of CNN's new original series, "Soundtracks, Songs that Defined History." have a great day.


BILLY JOEL, MUSICIAN: Music is an explosive expression of humanity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every movement has to have a song.

GEORGER W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you.

DWAYNE JOHNSON, ACTOR: The music will always remind us that it is possible.

RANDY JACKSON, MUSICIAN: That is what anthems are made of.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's about standing up for your rights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were killing our own children.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thought what the hell are we going to do that for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a cultural political statement.

[16:55:01] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Music is a vehicle for revolution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That kind of courage changed how I viewed human beings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The aftermath of 9/11, everybody was in it together.

JACKSON: Somebody's got to put this into words and emotions for everyone to hear.

JOEL: This is how we remember history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): "Soundtracks, Sounds that Defined History," premiers Thursday at 10:00 on CNN.


ANA CABRERA, CNN NEWSROOM SHOW HOST: You are live in the "CNN Newsroom." I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for joining me.

Breaking news right now, a suspected killer on the loose in Cleveland. Police say he broadcast the brutal killing of an elderly man on Facebook, and now Cleveland police warn

[17:00:00] The suspect is armed and dangerous and claims he has killed several other people today. But police have not verified any other murders, just the one. Here is what we know right now.