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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Pete Buttigieg Rising; Boeing 737 MAX Plane Forced to Make Emergency Landing; Russia's Military Moves. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired March 26, 2019 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: If you still are not sure how to pronounce 2020 candidate Pete Buttigieg's name, well, now might be a good time to learn.
The South Bend, Indiana, mayor is emerging from the massive Democratic presidential pack, as he publicly mulls a 2020 run. And he is beginning to catch nationwide attention. His Google searches are blowing up. His fund-raising numbers are getting a boost.
And CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich tells us how the Afghan War veteran and Rhodes Scholar is capitalizing on his new momentum.
VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Presidential hopeful Peter Bergen is having a moment, and even he seems surprised by it.
PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), MAYOR OF SOUTH BEND, INDIANA: It is heady. And it's happened very quickly.
YURKEVICH: As he is capitalizing on his rising star, from his latest appearance on "The View."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The last time South Bend, Indiana, Mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg was here, we're like, Pete who and how do you say that name?
YURKEVICH: To the morning talk radio show "The Breakfast Club."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pete Buttigieg.
YURKEVICH: The South Bend, Indiana, mayor's exploratory committee hauled in $1 million from two recent fund-raising e-mails, on top of the $600,000 it raised in the 24 hours after a CNN town hall appearance with Jake Tapper earlier this month.
BUTTIGIEG: I know that it's more traditional to maybe come from Congress, to have a background in Washington. But I would also argue that we would be well-served if Washington started to look more like our best-run cities and towns, rather than the other way around. YURKEVICH: Google searches for the mayor has also increased since the
town hall, and he's seeing larger crowds, like in South Carolina this weekend.
BUTTIGIEG: Thank you. What a crowd.
YURKEVICH: Part of his pitch to voters is offering bold reforms, such as expanding the Supreme Court and eliminating the Electoral College.
BUTTIGIEG: One thing I believe is that, in an American presidential election, the person who gets the most votes ought to be a person who wins.
YURKEVICH: But it's not just his policies attracting attention. The 37-year-old married gay mayor talks openly on the trail about his personal faith, along with a message of unity, even when it comes to the politics of Chick-fil-A.
QUESTION: What about Chick-fil-A? You like Chick-fil-A?
BUTTIGIEG: I do not approve of their politics, but I kind of approve of their chicken. So, maybe, if nothing else, I can build that bridge.
YURKEVICH: If elected, Buttigieg would be a president of many firsts, the youngest openly gay Afghanistan war veteran. He also speaks several languages, including Norwegian, picking it up because one of his favorite authors only had one book translated into English.
BUTTIGIEG: Sorry, I just ran out of Norwegian.
YURKEVICH: And Buttigieg says that there are some downsides to getting too popular too fast. It means he will have to increase his staff and meet new funding goals.
But he has a long way to go, Brianna. He's polling at about 1 percent nationally. And it's important to point out that he hasn't technically announced he's running for president yet, but we should be expecting that announcement sooner, rather than later -- Brianna.
KEILAR: All right, Vanessa Yurkevich, who can say Mayor Pete's name very well, I might add, thank you, Vanessa.
Can you all say it?
KEILAR: Say it.
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Buttigieg.
(CROSSTALK) JOHN JAMES (R), FORMER U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: Mayor Pete.
ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: This is not hard, Buttigieg.
KEILAR: Buta -- buta...
NAVARRO: Correct, Buttigieg.
KEILAR: Buta or Buda?
NAVARRO: Who cares?
NAVARRO: Don't start parsing things.
KEILAR: OK, the point is, look at how many times people...
NAVARRO: I'm blaming it on my accent.
KEILAR: You can do that. We will let you.
OK, so, look at how many times people have Googled him, though, right? Today, he's getting more attention than Senator Bernie Sanders. He's got more Google searches in the past two weeks than in the last year.
So what is it that is capturing the attention of so many Americans, do you think?
NAVARRO: Well, I was on "The View," co-hosting when he was there
And, look, I think what's -- I think what's capturing the attention is that he is completely new, completely out of the box, and so very different than what we are used to.
He is disarmingly charming. He's got this, like, almost like a like an innocence about him. But, at the same time, he is an intellectual. This guy's a Harvard guy, an Oxford guy, a Rhodes Scholar.
He really does speak all those languages. I started speaking Spanish to him. And, by God, he answered correctly, like better than George W. (LAUGHTER)
NAVARRO: So, he's -- I think people find him refreshing.
KEILAR: But how do you go from the mayor of a town of 100,000 to someone who's generating this kind of attention?
BEGALA: The current guy was firing people on a cardboard set. He was pretending to be a businessman on "The Apprentice," and now he's our president.
So I think the rules are thrown out. My party usually likes the outsider, the insurgent, the younger candidate, if you think of all the way back, whether it's JFK, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama. They were all young. They were all anti-establishment.
And Mayor Pete fits on all of that. And I think that's what's driving this. I think we're making mistake if we try to say, oh, he's too left or he's too right. That's not what it is. It's about the personal qualifications, characteristics and charisma that these candidates bring it.
KEILAR: So is it a moment? Or is it more than that, do you think, Kirsten?
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN COMMENTATOR: I mean, right now, it's a moment, but it could turn into something more.
I think it's interesting. In one of the interviews I saw, he was saying that the people who are the most skeptical of him are actually the younger people. And the people who are like, yes, you, are the older people.
And so I think that Paul's right. Democrats do tend to like younger candidates and people who are fresh. And he's not jaded yet, when you watch him doing interviews. He's just talking like a normal person. And he's very fluent in not just all these languages, but in all topics.
So it's just interesting how much he has thought about things and has just a lot of very thoughtful answers. And I think even in the joke he made about Chick-fil-A, I mean, that's the kind of tenor you want to have, somebody who can -- who also speaks about his faith, who thinks that there should be a religious left, in fact.
So, I mean, it's a really interesting combination.
KEILAR: Not jaded, but he had a good -- I mean, I know it's a chicken question, a Chick-fil-A question, but he had a good instinct on his answer.
JAMES: He had great instincts. He had a normal human instinct.
And I think that that normal human instinct, that insurgence -- the insurgency, the youth, that freshness, that new energy, that's the type of thing that gets traction in this country if you're a Democrat. I seem to remember a guy who was running in Michigan a few months ago who had the similar profile, which is why I can disagree with Mayor Pete's politics, but I can sit back as an American and be so proud of him for standing up.
And I can tell you one vet to another, he is one to watch, because overcoming insurmountable odds, being able to put country before party, these are things that are hallmarks of people who have served this country before. And I applaud him.
NAVARRO: And there's also something else about him that's quite unique. He's not tainted by the Washington dysfunction, right?
He speaks to Middle America, which is something that Democrats are looking for. I think it's going to be more than a moment, because he's now qualified, he's now reached enough donors. He's now raised enough money. He's qualified to be part of the debates. And I think he's going to be a star.
JAMES: I'm going to stop on that for one second, because, in all fairness, appealing to Middle America is not going to go too far when you're abolishing the Electoral College.
That is really advocating disenfranchising the voices that smaller states have.
NAVARRO: John, I'm not sure Republicans want to go right now into talking about voter disenfranchisement.
I'm telling you, I'm in Florida, where they are doing all they can do to try to stop felons from being able to vote. So I'm not sure voter disenfranchisement is the issue that Trump Republicans want to put their money on.
JAMES: You're talking to a black man who has a history understanding disenfranchisement.
NAVARRO: I think I realized that.
Well, you are talking to a brown woman who lives in Florida. And I'm telling you that the voters passed that, and legislators are crawling their way, seeing how not to do it.
JAMES: Well, guess what? Two wrongs don't make a right.
JAMES: And what I'm telling you, we should not abolish the Electoral College because of some errors that are going on in your state. The Electoral College is a vital part of our constitutional system.
It's a democratic republic. And we must respect the Electoral College to make sure that we do have a popular vote, but we also have an Electoral College to make sure that folks don't continue flying over...
NAVARRO: Beyond the Electoral College, voter disenfranchisement, after what we saw happening in Florida, what we saw happen in Georgia, is a very difficult path for Republicans.
KEILAR: We have some breaking news right now.
The FAA says that a Boeing 737 MAX plane had to make an emergency landing in Florida.
CNN's Drew Griffin is joining me now.
Drew, what can you tell us?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: That this flight, 8701, nobody was on board. This was Southwest basically trying to move another 737 MAX, which is grounded, ferry this plane over to Victorville, California, where they're storing them.
We're told by the FAA that they declared an emergency shortly after takeoff, reported engine problem, Brianna. That would initially be different than the other problems that were experienced on the two 737 MAXes, that -- crashes.
Again, this is very initial from the FAA, but a troubled airplane just being shuttled to storage had to turn back, land safely with just the crew on board at Orlando's airport after having engine problems while taking off from Orlando.
This happened just before 3:00 this afternoon -- Brianna.
KEILAR: All right, Drew Griffin will continue to track that for us. Thank you for that report, Drew.
Bit of a deja vu from the Cold War years. A familiar foe is making military moves in America's backyard.
[16:45:00] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Our "WORLD LEAD" now. The Russian military appears to be propping up embattled Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is already warning Russia to back off. Sources telling CNN the Kremlin sent military hardware and troops to the socialist country over the weekend at the same time that many world powers are backing opposition leader and self-proclaimed president Juan Guido.
And as CNN's Paula Newton explains, it's sparking renewed fears of a cold war-era confrontation between Russia and the U.S..
PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Trump administration calls this a reckless escalation. Two Russian planes arrived in Venezuela this week. Their presence confirmed by both countries downplayed by Russia. The mission though, a mystery.
KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV, RUSSIAN SENATOR: We do send military planes to this country the same way Americans do all over the world and it's not a big sensation.
NEWTON: Uniformed personnel seems to huddle on the tarmac although President Nicolas Maduro's communication ministry would not confirm a troop presence to CNN. The fallout though has already started. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that the U.S. will not stand idly by as Russia exacerbates tensions in Venezuela.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov fired back in a phone call Monday with Pompeo accusing the U.S. of organizing a coup in Venezuela and one Russian lawmaker seemed to offer an ultimatum.
KOSACHEV: I am definitely against of seeing any country in the world as a place where the United States of America in Russia compete with each other. We have to do just one single and equal thing, to stay out. And by that, we will have a chance to avoid a direct conflict between the United States of America and Russia.
NEWTON: U.S. and Russia remain dangerously at odds over who's in charge in the oil-rich country. Russia is saying Maduro is the legitimate President, and the U.S. backing opposition leader Juan Guaido.
That standoff continues but the stakes are getting ever higher. Now Russia's economic influence here is always help sustain the Maduro government. But now it's increasing military support could become a dangerous flashpoint in America's backyard.
Newly released satellite images posted and analyzed by the Israeli satellite and intelligence company ISI show what it claims are Russian S-300 air defense systems being deployed for the first time in Venezuela presumably on alert for a U.S. military attack.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All offensive weapons being shipped from Russia to that island fortress.
NEWTON: The defense hardware and troops bring back memories of some of the Soviet presence in communist Cuba during the Missile Crisis.
Do you believe Russia is becoming more and more influential in Venezuela?
Former Venezuelan Major-General Cliver Alcala who defected from the Maduro government worked closely with former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as he cultivated a closer military relationship with Russia. One nurtured and encouraged, he says, by Cuba's Castro led government. CLIVER ALCALA, FORMER MAJOR GENERAL, VENEZUELAN ARMY (through
translator): Russia is a great broker same as Cuba. They have their economic interest in the country. They don't care for the welfare or the protests of the Venezuelan people.
NEWTON: Brianna, I know you can hear it as well as I do, right? It is that echo, that echo of the Cold War right here in Venezuela. Now, many people are concerned about a possible confrontation. And Brianna, caught in the middle are the Venezuelan people.
We are now on day two of another massive countrywide blackout. It is tense here right now, I can tell you, Brianna, as people will decide where they're going to get their water, their food in the next few hours as the government said for not another day business as usual will not happen here in Venezuela as they try and figure out how to get the power back on
KEILAR: Paula Newton for us in Caracas, thank you for that report. And joining me now is former CIA and FBI Analyst, Phil Mudd. The big picture here, why are the Russians so concerned about Venezuela and propping up Maduro the embattled president.
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I think it's to redress humiliation from the end of the Soviet Union. You look at what -- how Vladimir Putin views the world as a KGB officer who saw the decline of the Soviet Union. What happened the past third almost 30 years for Russia has been to a decline of global influence.
So what do you do, you try to look for opportunities around the world where America is vulnerable or disinterested and take advantage of those opportunities, Iran, Syria and now Venezuela. The problem with that is Russia has a second-rate military, a third-rate economy, to fourth-rate diplomatic presence.
I mean, if you want to go to the Kentucky Derby of diplomacy and the American show up with the Brits, the Germans, the South Koreans, the Japanese and everybody else, and if you're Russia and you show up with the Venezuelans and the Syrians, the donkeys of the Kentucky Derby, I mean they're trying to reassert themselves, Brianna, but they got a long way to go.
[16:50:14] KEILAR: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned the Russians yesterday about exacerbating tensions in Venezuela and supporting Maduro. The President as you know has said that all options are on the table in Venezuela. How does Russia's involvement here change the potential use of these options?
MUDD: I think we're overstating the options we have available here. Let's go back to the Syria example. If you want to put men and women in the American military at risk and that's what we're talking about here, if Russia is sending military assistance, are we really talking about setting American servicemen and women down there to face the Russians? We can talk up this game, we can try to threaten the Russians, but if I were Vladimir Putin I'd look at the Syria example and say the Americans talk a game, they're not going to show up. To be clear I'm not sure we should.
Look, there's a potential that the opposition will succeed in Venezuela. If they succeed we should support them. Short of that, how much time and effort in American blood do we want to put down there? Pompeo was right to talk about this but I'm not sure we're going to send like the 80 -- the 82nd Airborne down there. I doubt it.
KEILAR: All right, Phil Mudd, thank you so much for that. We really appreciate your perspective.
MUDD: Thank you.
KEILAR: Nope, they did not board the wrong plane. The plane just landed at the wrong airport in the wrong city in the wrong country. So how in the world does that happen?
[16:55:00] KEILAR: They landed with visions of beers and brats and lederhosen, and instead they got whiskey and haggis and kilts. Passengers on a flight to Dusseldorf, Germany thought it was a bad joke when the captain of a British Airways flight said welcome to Edinburgh. Only this wasn't a gag. The flight not only landed at the wrong airport in the wrong country, but went basically in the totally wrong direction.
CNN's Resident Aviation Expert Richard Quest is joining me now. So did they just put the wrong destination into the GPS or what?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: No, the plane, the pilots intended to go to Edinburgh. The problem was the flight was meant to go to Dusseldorf. The previous night, the flight -- the last flight of the day for that aircraft had been to Edinburgh. And somehow WDL Aviation, the private company that's subcontracted to run this flight for B.A. somehow they just duplicated the last flight of the night before into the next morning. And when the pilots turned up, they saw Edinburgh, so they flew to Edinburgh.
What's not clear is how the passengers -- I mean, wasn't there any announcement made, the usual welcome aboard this plane going to Edinburgh? No, apparently not. It was an early morning flight. The pilot wished them well. They got on and it went to Edinburgh instead of -- some passengers did notice. They noticed that they didn't seem to go over any water. They noticed that there were too many mountains. But no, it went to Edinburgh.
KEILAR: They didn't -- OK. I mean, we laughs right? This is -- it's funny. They got the scenic route, I guess you could say. The question is, is there any safety risk here.
QUEST: No. KEILAR: No, OK.
QUEST: No. None. For one simple reason. This isn't a case of the pilots intending to go to Dusseldorf but suddenly having to end up in Edinburgh. They intended to go to Edinburgh. So all the flight plan was correct, they were familiar with the airport, they did all the right procedures. So there was no safety risk.
This is what we would call in British a classic cock-up, simple, pure, and simple. They managed to make a complete of it.
KEILAR: You can get away with saying that, Richard Quest. I wonder though -- so the -- so is if the flight plan is filed, meaning that they're even expected to land in --
QUEST: That's the issue.
KEILAR: Were they expected to be arriving? Was there traffic engine caught off guard?
QUEST: No, because the flight -- remember the air traffic control doesn't know where it's supposed to go. It receives a flight plan that's supposed to go to Edinburgh and the plane turns up. The issue is as follows. One why one's announcements made so that the passengers could have realized. Two, why didn't British Airways notice that one of their planes was going in the wrong direction? They would have known where that plane is supposed to go. And three, how did the flight -- why was the no second safety that would have prevented this from happening?
It's extremely embarrassing. But as I say, it doesn't appear to be dangerous. I love to use that word again but I'm not going to.
KEILAR: You can. How do you make -- how do -- does British Airways really any airline learning for this make sure that something like this doesn't happen again?
QUEST: You look and see what WDL Aviation, the subcontractors, the wet lease as they're known. You look and see what they did. And I'm guessing somewhere right at the very basic level it will be human cock up.
Somebody will not have filled in a form or will have filled in the form the wrong way. And you know what it's like, the pilot turns up the next morning, says oh, I'm going to Edinburgh, puts in the flight plan manually rather than having it downloaded automatically, and the next thing you know, you're going to the wrong Airport, and the passengers are going there too.
KEILAR: And you just make the announcement, Richard Quest. As you pointed out, that's very important. Thank you so much sir. And you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter or tweet the show @THELEADCNN. And our coverage on CNN continues right now.