tv America Under Assault The Gun Crisis Cuomo Prime Time Town Hall CNN August 7, 2019 6:00pm-7:45pm PDT
with him. we have reporting, police telling me, that he got in his vehicle and drove about a half mile away before he turned himself in to a motorcycle cop. that's not clear tonight. >> thanks very much. coming up right now the "cuomo prime time" town hall, "america under assault: the gun crisis," that starts now. ♪ hello, everybody. i am chris cuomo. we're calling our town hall "america under assault: the gun crisis." it's been a tough week but we should not waste this moment. let's take a breath and talk and take the time to listen. we've put together a beautiful program for you tonight with some of the most predominant voices and they have very different ideas about protecting our society from gun violence. and i am surrounded by a gift tonight, the strength of
survivors, the same kind of strength i saw on the ground in el paso. this audience traveled from far and wide, thank you for dealing with the elements, and they did so to represent their communities. how do we heal when this happens to us? no one and nowhere is immune. el paso, dayton, sandy hook, las vegas, virginia tech, columbine, chicago, many of the people here survived the bullets that tore through their bodies, changed their lives and changed their communities. many lost loved ones. some are advocates for reform. some work in the firearm industry. others work to limit that industry's reach. we also invited the national rifle association, the flori to of this, they declined. i guess they want to do their talking with propaganda ads and millions in lobbying. besides, let's be honest, the gun lobby is not going to be the
answer. and that shouldn't be expected anymore than we expected big tobacco to help us expose the ills of smoking. the reality is, people like you are the answer, and there can be no sides when it comes to wanting to be safer, better protected. let's use this moment, let's connect and confront what should be obvious by now. the other special interest involved tonight is our collective interest in dying less this way. i want to start by showing you what weapons are we talking about. for some in this room, i totally understand if you don't want to look at these images. i get it. as you know, i think we have allowed too many outside this room to hide from the reality for too long. so, these are law enforcement photos of the actual weapons used in american massacres. they're not models, they're evidence. the photos you're looking at, they can be called weapons of war. they are certainly responsible for 132 deaths. they're not for hunting. they're easily modified,
accessorized, they can hold a hundred bullets like we saw in dayton. they're not subject to the kinds of restrictions we put on handguns in most places. let's talk about why we are here and why we can't seem to get anywhere better. to do that, i'm going to start with those who have lived this crisis. we have christine, her son christopher, he was one of the 49 murdered in that pulse nightclub attack, jt louis, he lost his brother at sandy hook elementary. jt is 19. he's running for state senate in connecticut and he's running as a republican. i want to welcome each and all of you. thank you for being here. i want to start with a little bit of news. so, in el paso, the family came forward and said we don't know where he learned these things. let's take them at face value. they say we raised him with love
and kindness, who knows what happened between when he was in their house and his early 20s. his mother said, i did contact the police a few weeks ago before the shooting, obviously, right, because she was concerned about her son owning an ak-type firearm. she didn't say and he has this -- they say they didn't know. she said, i don't know about him having something like this. he's only 21. i don't know that he knows how to use it. the interesting gap to me, christina, is the officer doesn't take any next step. i'm not faulting the officer. the rules and the processes are what they are. there's no, let me talk to him, let's see what he's doing with this. there is none of that. what do you see in what we know and what we don't? >> well, first of all, i don't think he's any more or less indicative of most angry, mad
american males. there should be a museum, museum of mad american males. and they want to put their hatred somewhere and they look online so i can give her some credit as a mother because from what i'm just -- from my research -- and i've only been in this for three years, researching it since my son's death. but i see that these kids, so many of them get radicalized online and it doesn't matter if they're southerners, maybe they're going to put their hatred in that confederate flag, they may become a neo-nazi. >> imagine if you had a next step, david. you get told this, the family is concerned. there are countries like canada, not like the most remote place
in the world, where you would get a phone call, hey, your family is worried that you bought this ar. why did you buy it? what do you think about the practicality of something like that? >> well, it's like a red flag law, right? >> it is. it would be a lesser standard, because a red flag law is where you have -- in the states, 17 or so that have it, one of the problems is, the idea of a federal one, i don't know the legal mechanism for that, it's usually by states. but it is you call and say i know chris well, he's not doing well. he's saying crazy things. he's a danger to himself and others and that would trigger, no pun intended, that would activate a withdraw my right of having those guns. this would be short of that. if the mother is worried and the person has something like this, what is the plus/minus on putting another step in the
process. >> perhaps the mother or father should have -- if they know the kid well should have done more checking and following what's going on with him. the other thing would be, is there a possibility -- are we saying maybe a police officer could have went out above on his own time or above the call to check into it because he was worried because the mother was worried. i guess that's good. are you asking me, do i think there should be a law where we could intercept that, i'm going to surprise you with this, i think there needs to be something looked into on that line carefully and i think this is some ground that we're treading that i'm a staunch supporter of our constitution. i would be real careful about treading on that ground like that. >> right. you want to take this on. >> absolutely. >> you want to go in, run for office, you want to be part of the change. these are the kinds of
questions. >> yeah. >> what should happen when a parent calls, this kid has no diagnosis. she just doesn't like what she's seeing. is that anything of any interest to our laws. >> it gets into the red flag territory that the president has been talking about recently. something that we do need to look at. if you look at the history of it, the shooters give indications that they're able to pull something off like this, in sandy hook the shooter wrote something, a book, the same classroom my brother was murdered in, it was about a witch and her broom turned into a semiautomatic weapon and killed kids. we let him fall through the cracks. the same thing in parkland, he posted videos about carrying out a mass murder to make himself
famous. and i appreciate your show doesn't give the name and image because there are copy cat shooters and they're there, you can find them. and sandy hook, the kids his age afterwards said, yeah, i saw that coming. >> it's like the highest form of see something, say something. it's complicated. if you wanted to do that to me in college, you'd be okay. you want to do it about another kid in school, somebody at work, i'm wearing a band from a protocol called the columbia protocol where you learn the right questions to ask somebody. but you do it when somebody has a weapon, calling into question whether or not they should have one, now you got a fight on your hands. let's get some questions from the people who know better than i. stand up, introduce yourself and ask your question to christine, please, or you can stay seated.
thank you very much. we're already working together. go ahead. >> as survivors of the las vegas massacre, my husband and i struggled with the fact that the conversation in this country seemed to move on within a week while our lives would never get to go back to normal. can you talk about what happens to gun violence survivors after the camera crews leave and what are the psychological and lasting impacts of gun violence that often aren't discussed when the conversation moves onto the next topic. >> for me, personally, i find it very cathartic to get involved in my community, in whatever way i can, to give my son a voice. he lost his voice, so he has to speak through me, whether it's in gun safety activism or, like, for example, i made this t-shirt, no pulse museum. believe it or not, the owners of the pulse nightclub want to make
an admissions charging gift shop having tour bus coming from disney to stay an extra day in orlando so this business owner can have an income for her and her family off the deaths of my child. that's going to make me anger and i'm going to want justice. so we started a community coalition against the pulse museum so we have no pulse museum.info if you want to know more. i started a change.org petition to stop this pulse museum. where else in the country -- this is where -- orlando is a very liberal, left-leaning city, and they always like to, you know, talk about the right, the hypocrites on the right. they're being such bigots.
this is the only mass shooting that a muslim arab american committed and they're making a hate museum? what sense does that make? do we have one at the waffle house? is there going to be a one walmart, you know, museum now? why is it that, you know, the white supremacists, the neo-nazis and the confederate flag waiving communities can commit these murders. >> neither result winds up being adequate. you don't want it to go away and you don't want it to become a spectacle where people can profit of it. all right, let's move to the idea of stopping -- what do you have? >> just to follow up on her question. so right now at my church a lot
of people praying for me, trying to choose my words real carefully. and they're praying. and i understand when those words come up from the national media and the national people that run the country that we need more than that, i agree. but her question was, after the fact. so i would like to answer part of that. with those prayers, our little community got together and went and visited santa fe and tried to -- through christ, lift people up and encourage them. listen to their story and guess what, ours is similar so we could converse and talk, no debating, no republican, no democrat, no independent, nothing like that. right now as a church body, we are trying to go to el paso. you can't walk in there and do that. you got to get somebody in there to help you.
her question was, do we -- how do we survive after the fact? how are the survivors doing? what happens? let me assure you of a couple of things, there's no help. you better hope you have insurance. the government stops whatever they've got offered to you, that's done. you're on your own. the healing is long. two months in the hospital for me. mostly incapacitated, rehab at the finest place god offers on this earth and a couple of others that were fortunate enough to go where our wounded wa w warriors go. 20 months later now, it never ends. it never ends -- and i don't think it ever will.
i think it may be lighter. myself and people i know, as soon as we heard about ten days ago a shooting, it affects us. saturday, wow, sunday, wow, it -- it's all over again. >> it's not that prayer is unwanted, prayer is incredibly powerful. but the whole point of it is that you are trying to inspire something better and act like your church does when it goes somewhere else. the criticism is that don't do the first part, if you're not genuine in trying to act on what it is that you're literally praying for divine inspiration in order to do. but i take your point. and it's important to understand how many layers there are to this. let me get to another question here. in terms of talking about what works and what doesn't. what's your question, my friend. >> i was at the last cnn town hall calling for the end of gun violence where we said this has
to be the last mass shootings. i was watching the news unfold on monday, i woke up in the morning wondering how another one of these mass shootings could have happened wondering what happened in el paso could have possibly happened again, and then i learned there was a shooting in dayton of a similar, horrendous size. i tried to cry. i don't think i can do that anymore. i've cried for too many people this year. i looked at southernland springs and i looked at how the shooter was shot several times before leaving. and i explored the good old fashioned good guy with a gun argument. i wanted to pick it apart and understand what exactly it means. and soon enough, i learned that the shooter in the walmart was stopped by several armed people and i said, well, you know, i understand where a lot of these people are coming through. 22 people were killed in walmart and in all of these shootings
where this good guy with a gun has shown up, it's been after far too many people have been killed. so i said is this good guy with a gun concept strong enough when dozens are already being massacred? am i going to feel safer in public with more armed people. if 39 people are massacred and the shooter is stopped after that, is that enough? what exactly does this mean? what can we do here? and texas and ohio are both states with concealed carry. you'd assume people would feel safer there than anywhere else. do these shootings change your perspective at all on what it means to be a good guy with a gun. i'm shooting in these states that are heralds of these second amendment rights. >> what do you think?
>> it's hard to rely on someone at a shooting to have a gun. as far as at school, the shooter shot out the glass doors. a principal had to confront him in the hallway. there should have been an armed guard in there, a police officer, someone highly trained. i think that's something we can get behind on. i know at parkland he was and he wasn't able to act. you give yourself the best chance when there's someone there. most of them are -- they've been former first responders, police, military, they know what they're doing. if you get someone good, they're obviously vetted for many months. you get someone good, they're able to act. >> we're both white, the police brutality in this country when it comes to different students of color and the school to prison pipeline and just how easy it is for someone to be discriminated, do you think these armed officers are going to put students of color at
higher risk. >> you get into a gray area there. after sandy hook, all of the schools in our town of newtown implemented guards and police. my high school has 400 cameras. we have doors that lock from the inside. they're not doing it for show, they're doing it because it works. that's something i've been advocating for for the past year and a half. it's very important. >> they're similar, both communities that i would say on the higher end of the socioeconomic standard and both communities where most of the people are white. around the country, do you think that we need to be implementing the same procedures? because i think about all of these communities that are forced to face police violence every single day and i cannot imagine being a student walking into school that day knowing that these teachers are packing heat -- >> i know there are some proposals about that -- >> frankly any -- >> there's a difference between having a police officer or an armed security officer in it,
sometimes they call them school resource officers. and i understand why that rubs people the wrong way. but there's a difference between that and having teachers with guns. >> but then you look at the sexual harassment from police officers around the country. this is a high school, you've got young developing people, men and women from around the country, and the thought of more people with weapons that can corner these children, at marjory stoneman douglas high school, there were several teachers who have revealed to have several sexual harassment claims. do we think more people with guns around children is going to make the children safer when we have not seen any clear data that that does anything for it. >> i want to say that -- i want to see less guns on less people, period. [ applause ] >> exactly. and i partnered with a lady
who's nephew, 14 years old, was killed at marjory stoneman and she had this genius idea of let's try to get that as a ballot initiative to ban assault weapons now. and she asked me if i want team up with her. i said that's ingenious. let's have the voters since our politicians are saying that they're going to help us, and then they get into office and they don't help us, i want to see less guns. i want to see a -- if we can do it in florida, i want to see that countrywide, ban assault weapons and that answers your earlier question too ability the mother with the son with the ak. if they're banned, there's easy for the police officer. he doesn't have to play a game. it's a banned weapon, you're going in. >> valid initiative would be a state by state solution because on the federal level you don't have the same mechanism. let me get another question.
>> thank you, chris, for having us here tonight. i want to start by saying i can't believe we're sitting here having this same discussion 6 1/2 years after i survived the sandy hook shooting and jt brother was killed there. if we can't do something after 20 6-year-olds are killed, it's something. i'm a gun owner but we believe that gun ownership comes with grave responsibility. i think most americans do, and gun owners do. what will it take for our elected leaders to hear the call of people like us in the radical middle and bring background checks for all gun sales to a vote in the senate? >> what do you think, david? >> at one time i was 100% against it. >> because? >> because we have a second
amendment that expressly states that's not to happen. our rights won't be infringed. but today i don't want just some answers thrown out and like she said, what's it going to take? i think there needs to be some unity, some tremendous prayer in all of these decisions. i think that this gun registration, again, i'm probably going to surprise some people who know me, i think it's a viable alternative. it wouldn't have stopped any of these shootings, though. it wouldn't have stopped any of them. >> if the background check law was extended instead of a three-day waiting period, there was more of a 10 or 20 day waiting period, the charleston shooter wouldn't have had a gun. that's a fact.
and we know that background checks keep guns out of the hands of people and save people because -- every gun that's sold starts as a legal gun. and not until a background check is missed does it become an illegal gun. >> if he would have been able to get that gun ten days afterwards -- >> he wouldn't have passed a background check -- >> that case -- that case is fact-friendly to the idea of why background checks work. i think that the other point of analysis that becomes relevant here, is it fair to say if the rule wouldn't have stopped the event that precipitates that rule, it must be a bad rule. and i think that what we're learning is, we need layers. what we're learning as a word which is holistic. we keep talking about a holistic approach to it but we do nothing. and it seems like we're use the word, if we're not going any of these things, then we're not
doing any of these things. background checks wouldn't have made a difference because in this particular instance, this person didn't have a criminal record or any other thing. okay. but as a combination effort of if you have red flag laws that are fully funded and encouraged in a way -- okay, if you have better treatment for people and an ability to get people who need that treatment kept in a place, that's okay. but that's not going to be the panacea that we're hearing from the president. people with mental illness are much more likely to be victims of violent crime. and while we see tragedies in mass shootings and general, once you look at what really should count as mass shootings in places like chicago, it's off the table. it's not about mental health anymore. but it is a piece. it seems if we could talk more about doing lots of things that might make a difference, maybe this one doesn't matter in this
case. but it might matter in the next. and as a comprehensive solution, we would apply that to every other problem we deal with, except this one. if you thought about it in terms of protecting kids from predators, if you look at the laws at that, i don't know why you would, there are many different layers of protections, different agencies with different responsibilities that share information in different ways, where you can live, where you can be because we're so worried about having it happen again. not here and that's something for us to think about. i appreciate each and all of you for sharing this because i know it's not easy. i know having this conversation takes a little piece out of you every time. >> it's important, exactly. >> christine, thank you. david, thank you. and god bless j.t. good luck going forward. as somebody who wants to have less violence going into
politics, you're a brave young man and i wish you well. here's a fact to kind of send us into this commercial break. guns, look at the number on your screen, there are more guns in america than people. think about that. 393 million held by civilians in the usa. no other country can match us in that way. and you have to recognize that by law and culture, this will never be a gun-free country. so where are we together on what can change and what are the real challenges? let's take that on next. it was a life changing moment for me.
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who get the political realities. we have a former democratic mayor of new orleans, one of the most dangers cities in america, and a democrat, district attorney for brooklyn, new york. he's got a professional and personal connection. i wanted republicans, by the way. i wanted this about balance. it's not easy in this environment. i want you to know this, congress tom mass sy, he's a bi deal on this issue, he wanted to be here, it was weather that kept him away. i didn't think it would be right to have him on a remote talking about this. he wanted to be here. he deserves that respect. gentlemen, thank you. a little bit of news. the president we're told was on the phone with the head of the nra yesterday or today. they are in contact. is that a good thing, is that a bad thing? >> what do you think, here?
>> i think when people are talking, it's a good thing. it depends on what they're talking about. you'll see this, as soon as a -- there's an event like this, we have what it is that we have, is a great deal of agony, the mayors of both of these city and is the victims and their families are going through a horrible time. somebody says something that somebody says is political, and somebody says, now is not the time to talk about. and it goes away and we don't talk about it. we have to have an appointed time to speak about it and to actually work through it to find answers that actually will create meaningful difference in peoples' lives. >> you believe that the nra is that powerful? that that's what the main reason is that we don't see the right wanting to make more legislative change in the area of controlling access? >> i believe that the power of the nra in controlling some of our elected officials and not wanting to face the wrath of
that organization and supporters is a major factor in not having reasonable gun control. >> i wonder about the idea of the wrath, right? because, look, you guys both know this, what do they bring to bear? they put up 17 million in lobbying. that's real money. doesn't put them at the top of the list. they bring votes. that's why we started talking about how the power has got to be at the ballot box. they will bring people who have made this issue into a political proxy issue for freedom. a lot of them don't own guns, but they want the right to own that gun. they'll come in vote. is that their real power. >> people can argue about that until the cows come home. essentially nothing is getting done. since 1980 in our country that we all love, 630,000 americans citizens have been killed on the streets of new orleans. some in what people would call street crime, some in mass
shootings, some in suicide. that's more soldiers -- american soldiers that have been killed in all of the wars of the 20th and 21st century. that means we have a problem with gun violence in america. congress prevents any significant research on violence as a public health threat. it would be nice to know what we're talking about -- >> why do you think they don't allow -- >> i think they're worried about guns. we talk about public health, we don't start talking about national security t. piece of news that you had on before was the issue of the fbi and was this is a terrorism threat. i think everybody can agree that this is a form of terrorism -- >> what this guy did in el paso, absolutely. >> when it happened in on the one hand -- orlando, we were arguing about that. since 9/11, the funding for the fbi to be focused on the ground has been cut because they were
looking overseas. >> that's the key part. you know in doing an investigation, it's all about resources to look into any type of organization that may be behind it. we don't do that with this. if you had a muslim who had -- not even -- they're not real muslims. if you had an islamic extremists, shot up walmart that way, we would all be about resources, who did they know, where did he get it from? whether he's a proxy for the group, we're going to go after that group. we don't do that here. do you think that makes a big difference? >> it makes a difference that in the sense we're losing lives every day in this country, and those lives seem not to matter to focuses in the nra and others. we lose them often in low-income communities and black and brown communities, and there's no
resources put into understanding those problems, where those guns are coming from, and when we have a mass shooting like this, it highlights it because it puts everyone on the edge, but we don't have those further conversations -- >> doesn't go on. we talk mental health, but we were talking to somebody who's part of the solution here in the crowd, two-thirds of homicide, death by person with guns, suicide. and what are we doing about that? let's continue the conversation. what is your question? >> i'm from columbine, representing that part of town in the country. so this is to do with pro-gun and anti-gun conversations and how polarizing it can be once it even comes up. so when those conversations happen, people are expecting them to disagree fiercely. and what they're not expecting
is for people to come together and find a solution. so how can we change those expectations? what would it take for each position to listen, absorb, and understand one another so they can find a solution? >> thank you for that question. it's a great question. there's a better one. if in fact the polls indicate that 65% of americans -- i just picked that number randomly, agree on something, why can't congress pass that. that's a different issue. one of the things we have to think about is what kind of reasonable restrictions make sense? i'm from louisiana. very, very heavy, prosecond amendment state. but with all of the hunters in louisiana, these folks believe in responsible gun ownership and i think most americans will agree with the following statement, that not everybody should own any kind of gun at any time to do whatever they want to. even the case from the supreme court said there can be restrictions that work. banning assault weapons and
putting age limits on them, a waiting period is what most americans think that push responsible gun ownership that the nra used to be in favor of a long time ago. the bigger question for congress, this is what the law is and local governments can't do any different, that seems to be a reasonable place for us to talk. i want to do that, but i also don't want the discussion of guns to take away from the health side of this, what you said about having a comprehensive approach. if one thing doesn't work, deciding, we're not going to do anything. >> look at where we are just in context. not to run by your own history. you're not just from columbine, you survived the shooting. that was 20 years ago. i was at that shooting, i was the first one i ever covered. we covered it as a phenomenon. we were there for weeks. we couldn't believe that these
two kids had arrived at this kind of solution. i spent days in malls following around this mythical group calls the trench coat mafia which turned out to be a group of goth kids because we were so desperate to understand how this could have happened because this would never be something we could expect. 20 years ago. all of the ones since, we're less courthouurious about it no we were then. what does that mean to you? >> wow. so, it's always fascinating every time another shooting comes up that columbine comes up. i don't know why it's something sort of barometer. it was definitely unique when it happened and what's different now, a lot of people will argue, is nothing. things have gotten worse in
various ways with technology and internet and whatever it is that, you know, creates these perfect storms that create these massacres and everything that makes them happen. so, i guess what we're trying to find now is this common thread and a common ground that we can all be on to have this discussion that doesn't end in this polarizing debate that gets nowhere. so what is that common ground? that common ground is that we all have families, we all have friends, loved ones, we all want to be loved. we all want to give love and what makes -- what that makes us all is human. and the common thread here is that we are all that, and every single person in the world is
human and that is a common ground that we can all come to and understand that we need to change something here. and whether it's columbine or parkland or vegas or -- i could go on and on and on and on. my situation is not any more unique than anyone else's. >> let's get another question. jennifer, where are you? good. what's your question? >> as chris said, two-thirds of gun deaths every day are suicides like my husband, scott. an extreme risk protection order may have saved his life. it would have been the one thing i could do to help him in crisis. so now i work with every town to advance this legislation in my home state of pennsylvania. do you believe that this life-saving legislation should be advanced in widely in states and the federal government? >> we just passed it here in new
york state and it's effective august of this year. so it's brand-new. it's one week old. but i believe that it has the possibility of preventing a lot of tragedy. and having -- it's done in a way that i think protects due process rights because a court has to be involved. they have to find is there a legal standard by clear and convincing evidence, was there probable cause to believe that the person would hurt themselves or another, there's legal protections put in. but it allows many different entities, police and the da offices and others to go into civil court and take these guns away. >> the pushback is, mitch addressed this, it's too much. it's too far. it's too low a standard. how long can you keep the weapons? how do you get them back? >> first of all, i'm sorry about
your husband. if you'll notice in all of this discussion, we can't get anywhere because everything is too much of whatever. and we never talk about a comprehensive approach. one thing that you raise that would help educate the public, we're talking about violence that involves guns. some of it can be a mass shooting, some of it is suicides. as the da so appropriately said, today 40 people in america got killed and a lot of folks don't think much about them. what is the common thread throughout all of those things? our willingness to use guns to resolve a problem and i don't think that that's going to go away by passing one particular law, but i am very much in favor of trying lots of different things. yeah, we're afraid to take one step because the question is, where is it going to go? let's figure out, we're smart enough to find the balance in the constitution, everywhere there's a right, there's a corresponding responsibility to exercise that right. where is the balance? i would remind the country that
even justice scalia, the most conservative justice said you can find a balance between a person's right and a person's freedom. and we have to work on it hard. i have a dream that congress somehow is going to be called into session and they will all be sitting in their seats and we can see all of this, all of the house members, they will open up the floor of the house and the senate for open debate and it will stay open until they find a comprehensive solution because like when are they going to do it? i just think that we have to stop dancing around it and the country should say, it's not okay for my daughter to go to walmart to get school supplies and get killed or be on the porch with your little brother and get your guts blown out because somebody came by because they wanted to hurt your daddy. that's not okay in the united states of america and we have to stand up and let our leaders know this. >> stay with us. we have more questions.
let's take a break and we'll come back. here's another fact for you, you heard that number, nearly 40,000 people were killed by guns in america in 2017. if you look at it as a rate, that's about 109 people a day to this and we do nothing. we're going to keep doing these questions. we'll get more people together, you can listen, hopefully we'll all learn something. stay with us. ♪ ♪
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thank you for joining us tonight for the especially "prime time" town hall. we'll continue with my panel. a district attorney in brook line and mayor in new orleans. we're talking about the different ways that this issue gets spun and presented which largely contributes to inaction. right? that's where we are. we found a lot of reasons to do nothing. so, i want to talk to somebody now who will ask a question that
will be harder for the people in power to not listen to. christopher under wood. good to have you here. 12 year-old. you know this issue, too well. because you felt it in your own family. you lost your brother. now you're trying to make a difference speaking out, from brooklyn, new york. what's your question? >> my question today is when will these law makers start protecting me from gun violence? destroying lives and communities. don't i deserve to grow up? >> how you process the pressage in terms of who's at risk and who needs help. >> it's heartbreaking. i have spent more days of my life consoling families, going to hospitals. praying with families. who have lost loved ones. and all though new york state and new york city safest big city and we do in terms of gun
violence, we do better than other places. it's too much. this pocket of communities where there's no resolution and there's no justice for families who lose loved ones, so i'm sorry, but we're working around the clock to figure out solutions. we're never going to arrest our way into solving the gun crisis. we have to have a multi-faceted approach. i believe cure violence and violence interrupters and it has to be many different parts working together including hospitals to deal with the trama that a lot of young men have and the anger they have. that causes them to do this in the first place. >> even if christopher gets lucky, and you have gonzalez district attorney interested in this issue. the guy who is governor in the state with the funny name. if they pass lot of the right
laws you can go to the state that doesn't have the same laws. get the gun. bring it over. it's one of the unspoken truths about chicago. illinois passed a lot of laws. chicago passed a lot of laws. go to soot state and get the gun. bring them in. this kid in one of the last two murders that we saw. his state wasn't allowed for him to get the gun he got it from texas. brought to ohio. that's the trick. >> i'm sorry about your brother. that was your baby boy? in new orleans i was there, i thought that if i showed the people of america what it looked like the day before somebody was killed and the day after. they would think that life is valuable and we'll do something about it. not to compare mass shootings with what happens every day. they're both deaths and painfuls and we have to go to funerals and the emergency room. we have to tell people about it.
there's a girl 5 years old on the porch at her dozens birthday party. and two guys came by and wanted to kill their father. and sprayed the porch and blew her guts out. a year later another shooting. and he got missed in the cheek. he missed getting killed by two fractions of a second. we don't have a full understanding of the complete and total damage. not just of the people that will be killed or shot odd traumatized. the public health research on this is really important. we can rise up and figure out how damaged we are as a country. our political leaders have to stop whatever it is they're doing. this is a solvable problem. there's no question we can change behavior in the country. it's not like going to mars. which we want to do and we're excited about.
i suggest we fix what's here. on the ground. while we're thinking about neighbor before we go. it's a fixable problem sfwl you have 12 year-olds begging you to let them grow up and take care of them. think about what you're doing. let's take break and come back and have some more real talk. tell him we're flexible. don't worry. my dutch is ok. just ok? (in dutch) tell him we need this merger. (in dutch) it's happening..! just ok is not ok. especially when it comes to your network. at&t is america's best wireless network and now, get the option of spotify premium on us, with your unlimited plan. more for your thing. that's our thing. my money should work as hard as i do. that's why i use my freedom unlimited card every time i get gas. give me a little slack! with freedom unlimited, you're always earning.
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welcome back to our special town hall. we're in a room surrounded by the strength of survivors and we're joined by two men in the business of trying to keep people from having to go through the process of not surviving gun violence. we have former philly police commissioner. here of the he was washington's police chief during the sniper rampage. also here, doctor joe. director of emergency room general surgery at john hopkins in baltimore. once a gunshot victim himself. now an activist. good to have you. nice to meet you. chief, a question from the audience to start.
teresa, thank you for being here. what's your question? >> thank you. i'm a volunteer with the coalition of new jersey firearm owners. i'm a proud firearm owner. and i care too. i think there's a little bit of a misunderstanding that we don't care. we do. we're against violence. all violence. my question is do you believe a woman has a right to choose whether or not to defend her own body? and in the manner she chooses. and the government should not interfere with that decision? >> that's a little off the topic here. but i do believe in ha woman's right to choose. into the area about any means she chooses i don't know what you mean by that. there are laws if you're talking about deadly force. for example. you carry a gun or whatever. there are certain circumstances under which you can resort to deadly force. and it's important as a gun
owner and that goes for anybody to understand the laws of that particular state. so they don't wind up doing something that could actually cause them some problems down the road. certainly if you're assaulted or whatever, you have a right to defend yourself. when you talk about deadly force that's different. >> it's interesting. there's a property involved. you're playing on what we see with reproductive rights. in each case people who are making the impassioned argument what's the concern? the concern is the well being of the person who winds up being the recipient of the act. right? talking about reproductive rights which obviously isn't what we're talking about tonight. but still important. it's what about the fetus? or the baby. when is it a person. you're thinking about who is going to be impacted by the decision that's made. that's the same thing here. i have a right to own a gun. i do. i do own a gun. my right has restrictions on it.
right? and we start talking about what is the impact of my right on the rest of society that's where wrou get into what scalia. we didn't have a an individual right read into the second amendment. the difference is huge. it dwrused to be about what the state could make you do. you have to have the arm. it has to be able to be used and you have to know how to use it. when you come to work in the washington's army you know what you're doing. and we don't have to train you up and equip you. now it's different. it's about what you as an individual are empowered to do. as reality, once you get passed that legal gobble. and you're on the street. the reality of how many guns and how many ways they're used in society and what that does to a police force, what's your experience? >> first of all i started in the
chicago police department in 1968. i spent 30 years a chicago cop. we used to recover saturday night specials. a 22, 32, caliber handgun. maybe six rounds, seven round or whatever. now you're getting high powered automatic weapons including assault weapons. crime scenes now you never find one shell casing. you find 30, 40. at scene. it's changed dramatically. and the devastation of the wounds. nobody gets shot one time. we're talking about people getting shot multiple times with a high power weapon. that is designed to kill. that bullet expands on impact and rips tissue and anything that it touches. people bleed out on the street. my cops in philly were carrying turn kits. every day. just to be able to stop bleeding to get them to the hospital. we don't wait for an ambulance. you throw them in the back of the police car. that's how desperate things are.
>> the counter argument is, i want this through your reality and the operating room, what you call assault weapons you're giving long guns a bad name. they're not that powerful and being demonized the guns when they don't really make that much of a difference. what have you learned since you started to today in terms of what the difference is between the small caliber handgun and the long guns and the ar style guns and what they do to people? >> let's be clear. we are facing a public health crisis in the country. when you talk about the comparison of the handgun vs. the assault rifle. we know that the force that's delivered pulverizes the tissue. when we see the wounds and the missiles that are passing
through bodies. and the reality is that makes it difficult for us to save those lives. it's very different than if someone gets shot with a handgun. and when you look at us as a system, right, we are a team that have come together with a common goal. right? to save the patients life. to stop the bleeding. but that's the end game. what we should be doing is we should be preventing the injuries from happening in the first place. and that's something that we haven't focussed on from a public health perspective. >> do you believe another one of the arguments offered up is they didn't have these they'd use something else and if you took away access to guns. and found a matrix of laws and processes. they'll use knives. and cars and explosives and you'll be in the same place. do you believe that?
>> no, i don't. look what happened in dayton. 100 round drum. 32 seconds. nine dead. a number injured. you cannot do that in such a short amount of time. i think that theory is false. >> where are we. great. what's your question? >> thank you for having me. i'm the education director at new york against gun violence we teach gun violence prevention programs in high schools around the city. one of the primary focuses of our classroom is really talk about the root cause of gun violence. and in lieu of donald trumps recent remarks about video games, i wanted to ask you the u.s. has more gun violence than any industrialized country in. we play the same games and pln to the same muse k. why do we struggle with such a huge problem? >> the answer actually is
relative relatively simple. it's the access to firearms that we have. it's a fallacy to try to say that the problem that we have is a mental health problem or related to violent video games. look at japan for example. they play way more violent video games than we do and they don't have this problem. your question is right on point. when we talk about the problem, the mainstream media covers this issue around the mass shootings. that's just a small proportion of the epidemic. we have young black men that are being killed on our streets every day in cities like baltimore, chicago, philadelphia. and those stories often go untold. i think we have the responsibility -- [ cheers and applause ]
>> we have the responsibility to tell those stories. and i recently had a 17 year-old high school student that was shot in the back of the head. execution style. the worse part of my job is having to go up to those waiting rooms and talk to the families. the mothers. fathers, sisters and brothers. i went up to talk to this kids mom. and explain to her that her child had a devastating brain injury. and he was never coming back. and as i began telling her this story, and what the prognosises. she began telling me about her son. he was the first in our family to graduate from high school. which in the african american community in baltimore is a big deal. he had hopes and dreams of going to college. which will not get fulfilled. she looked up at the healthcare
team. and she saw the devastation in our eyes. and she walked over and did something i'll never forget. she put her hand on my shoulder and said are you okay? just imagine this for one second. here's a mother that just lost her son. and she's asking us if we're okay. it's moments like that that restore my faith in humanity. and moments like that which allow me and a will the of other folks including the people here in the room to get up every day to get up and reduce death in america. >> the ytd we don't focus on the aspects of this, 1994 the crime bill that was passed is getting heat right now in politics. people are talking about how it was misplaced justice at the time. the assault weapons bill was part of it. i went back and rafsding through the bill. that bill gets more credit than
it deserves. you cannot figure out if it made a difference in crime. we don't track it. the manufacturers went right around the restrictions and all the weapons that existed already that were willing for transfer. and that was done indirect response to the kinds of crime he's talking about. barely passed. but everybody looks at that as those are the good old days when we got it right. did we? >> we have never got it right. we have never sat down and had a discussion without getting heated and coming up with real solutions. we're talking about it now because of mass shootings. i deal with homicides every day a cop 47 years in chicago, philadelphia and washington d.c. it's incredible and i call it collateral damage. caused by the violence in the neighborhoods. you go to a krum scene and a
body. look across the street there's kids over there. they have to walk passed the same place to go to school. we wonder why they have trouble reading and writing. they're traumatized. there aren't the services in place to be able to help the kids. i saw my first homicide when i was 14. it wasn't a gunshot. my brothers best friend next door got stabbed in the back by gang bangers because he wasn't in a gang. i grew up in chicago. this is not new. trs not new. the impact it has on the first responders. the cops that deal with this. the medical personnel. there's a lot of moving parts and things that we need to think about. take a comprehensive approach. i don't care what they pass, if they don't get the assault weapons it won't make a damn bit of difference. >> chief, thank you very much.
dock, i appreciate it. they're hard truths to hear. when will we listen. we'll take a break and give you a nugget. 94% of you, if you're a voter, you support universal background checks. for gun owners. that is as close to unanimous as we get. but no one is listening to you. how do yo make them do your job? i'll lay out i call it the closing argument. not tonight. i don't see sides to the issue of doing more or doing bert than we're doing now when it comes to gun violence. there are things that are obvious. and need to be said. then it really is up to what you demand. let's get after it, next. this summer at panera,
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the president won't solve this problem. you can argue the reasons why in different ways. it doesn't matter. he's open to making changes but yet to act in real way. this shouldn't be all about him. all major movements in this country start with you. not them. not the politicians. sure, when they run they have plans and ideas and promises. thoughts and prayers. sympathy. they rarely act on it because it really is for you to lead with your voices and votes. and i believe there's reason for help. for one, we can't continue to be this stupid. it just defies common sense. we have a clear consensus among americans of wanting better and more protection. second, we are in el paso this week. i felt something different there. this country rejects hate. and the idea of white nationalists preying on a certain part of us is unacceptable. i believe your revulsion will
force lawmakers to treat people like them as the terrorists they are. people point to the 94 assault weapons ban as a model. is it really? barely found political consensus. to be honest it really was easily run around by manufacturers. we have never really taken this on. i would argue. and yet change is obvious. what good argument did you hear tonight for why all gun sales should not be checked? and that data shouldn't be shared with relevant agencies. the fears of some mystery data base where they know what you have and have to go against the government some day you'll be unprepared. come on. 100 round drums are not more necessary than bump stocks. and his president found his way to banning those. lt the rules that state already that you have certain requirements to meet if you want a handgun. concealed, open carry permits. questions. the affidavits. the sales.
if you just put those in place with every sale, you'd make a real difference in vetting who gets weapons and why. we already have the infrastructure for it. yes, letting families flag authorities about a loved one who seems determine to hurt themselves or others and remove access to weapons not forever not every case. that would help too. and nice to track shootings federally. it would be nice to know what's happening and where. and by whom. the reason for doing none of these things are hollow at best and toxic in the main. if lawmakers don't like one or some, they do nothing. they use wholistic to blow a hole in the idea of a solution. there's a bill on senator mcconnells desk, he won't allow it to be debated. you have to wonder, if it has been migrants or muslim extremists doing these mass shootings, you think he would treat it the same way? do you think this president
would be so quiet? so, i believe it is down to you and what you demand. i was reminded of the power of our people when i was in el paso. that's where i'm hodailding thi rock. this woman gave it to me. she was personally affected by the massacre. she was watching us and worried about us. so in her grief, she goes and finds a rock that was heavy. in her garden. it was important it was heavy. so you feel the weight of it. and paints it with our lady. the mother of mercy. and brings to me and said keep this with you it's heavy. feel the weight on your heart. this matters. this is who we are. americans love deeply. and they connect fully. our real currency is isn't cash. it's community. and compassion. that's what makes us who we are. we cry, and we cringe. we don't want to be divided on
being safe. we know there's every reason to come together. so i ask you to ignore the politics, be open to options. most importantly you have to demand your leaders do their damn job. and remember, we have to be better on this. because the problem is literally killing us. i want to thank you for watching our town hall tonight. "cnn tonight" with don lemon starts now. as i go to don, he would want to thank you. again for being here. this isn't easy for you. this isn't the only aspect of your lives you want to relive fwen and again. we appreciate you. putting purpose to your pain for us tonight. thank you. each and every one of you. >> learned a lot. i agree on most things. except i do think this is all about the president. i'll tell you why. this president has 89% approval among republicans. the people who are keeping
sensible gun legislation from happening in america. are republicans. you mention senator majority leader. mitch mcconnell. he won't take the vote. president trump said to him, do the vote. if president trump said to republicans vote on it. pass it. it would happen. i do think this, i'm not willing to let him off the hook. i think that it is in his hands. it's obvious that politicians are not going to do it. they're afraid of him. afraid of being primaried and afraid of the twitter backlash. that they'll get from the president. so i think, yes, if you can say take the politics out. this is all about politics. it's what's keeping this from happening. americans have spoken out loudly and clearly for decades they want sensible gun legislation. none of the politicians are listening. >> the last fact is you're
folly. you're right. the country has seen through a basic consensus the need to do different things for a long time. long before the president. so long before it was when trump was saying he wasn't in favor of guns. here in new york. it can't gist be about him. i want to know why he talked to wayne. and what they talked about. if it's like the last time he came out and said he wanted to do all these things and speaks to him and he doesn't. what i'm saying somebody is pulling his -- >> that's my point. >> somebody else is pulling the strings. i think it doesn't end with the president. >> if the president can stand up to wayne and the gun lobby. there's no other president in recent history that had the support of his own party of president. not even president obama had support of democrats as this president. not even reagan or bush.
the senate there's a bill already passed that is already made it through the house. mitch mcconnell the leader of republicans the leader of the senate won't send it to the floor. all the president has to do is say do it. he would do it. i'm not willing to let president off the hook. it's all about him. if there's going to be any change made in this moment, it's not going to be in the normal way where you think lawmakers have to listen to me. it will be from the president. who put out a video today as soon as left one hospital. it is all upon this president. the tone that's been created in the country and what can happen next when it comes to gun legislation. put pressure at the top. that's where it matters. and trickle down. >> it's not -- >> not all of it. >> he'll take on the fight and he loves the fight. we'll cover the fight and forget about the fight was about. >> not all on him. >> we have an election coming up. and more people on the ballot.
you're right. we have to put it to him. we do it every day. he knows that. he did smart move. keeping himself out of public visibility today. he went to the hospital. he's right to do that it's respectful. he avoided people he knew he wasn't in his own backyard. there are other people who will have the vote this happened a long time before him, and if it doesn't change because the people nand it, it will continue long after. >> i learned a lot. and i'm very grateful for the people in the room who showed up and watched. you did a great job. >> this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. i guess it should surprise none of us that the feelings of the consoler in chief seem most concerned with while visiting victims were his own. it's all about president trump. who want to hospitals to meet and comfort the victims. and the plane had barely taken
off from the first grieving city when the toip aid along for the raid tweeted out the president was tweeted like a rock star inside the hospital in dayton. a rock star? how can you boast about that in this context? it would be hard to be more tone deaf than that. more insensitive. right? wrong. >> as you know we left ohio. and the love the respect for the office of the presidency. it was i wish you could have been in there to see it. it was no different here. we came from the hospital, we were there a lot longer than we were expecting to be. it was supposed to be a fairly quick. we met with numerous people. we met with also the doctors and nurses the medical staff.
they have done incredible job. both places just incredible. and the enthusiasm the love the respect. >> it's not about you. it's not about you. for once. at least today. we know it's all about this president. especially when he's aggrieved. his feelings hurt. by things he saw on tv. so when the president had a chance to speak publicly on this sad day in el paso, a city in mourning. after a racist mass murder. he used his time to brag about himself and trash some democrats. >> they should be politicking today. he had the mayor. they asked to go in could we go in and make -- yeah let's do it. they couldn't believe what they saw. and said to people. they have never seen anything like it. the entire hospital no different than what we had in el paso.
the entire hospital was, i mean everybody is so proud of the job they did. they did a great job. and then i say good-bye. we made the tour. they couldn't believe she said to people, he said it to people. i get on air force 1. they have a lot of televisions. i turn on the tv and they're saying well i don't know if it was appropriate for the president to be here. the same old line. and they're very dishonest. that's why he got about 0% he failed as a presidential candidate. >> okay, so, as always. we have to look at what really happened. not just the story that he created after wards. earlier in the day, ohio senator brown and dayton mayor joined the president at the dayton hospital. and here's what senator brown and mayor said to the media about the president's hospital
visit. >> he was comforting and did the right thing. >> i think the victims and first responders were grateful the president of the united states came to dayton. >> they said kind things about the president's role comforting the victims. what ticked the president off is they told reporters after their hospital visit that they pressed trump to push for expanded background checks. and common sense gun control legislation. they are elected officials. isn't that what they're supposed to do? but the president doesn't get it. doesn't seem to get americans are scared. they're frightened of out of control deadly gun violence. they're fearful they won't make it home safely from the supermarket. from church. from a diner. a nightclub.
their kids won't make it alive from school. look at these videos. this is real. that is panic and chaos. in times square last night people running in all directions after motorcycles backfired. people were heard screaming there was a shooter. police tried to calm people down saying there was no gunfire. then this is utah. panicked people ran from a mall when a sign fell causing a bang. that sounded like a gunshot. and hundreds of employees evacuated from the office building in virginia. after reports of man with a weapon. fortunately police say there was nothing to worry about in the end. but the fact is, americans are scared. and president trump seems tone deaf about it. to the point where his priorities were to defend himself. to attack others.
and also get in some remarks about dayton and el paso. the victims and the heros. the people who the whole day should have been about. and then there is tucker karlson. the president's apologist. at fox news. who said last night on the air, stuningly in the wake of the murders of 2 it people in el paso at the hands of a white nationalist that white supremacy is not a problem in the country. >> but the whole thing is a lie. if you were to assemble a list of concerns. a problems this country faces. where is white supremacy on the list? with russia probably. it's not a real problem in america. the combined membership in the country would fit inside a college football stadium. seriously. this is a country where the
average person is getting poorer with the suicide rate is spiking. white supremacy that's the problem. it's a hoax. like the russia hoax. a conspiracy theory used to divide the country and keep a hold on power. that's exactly what's going on. >> there's so much in there -- the economy was so great and says people are getting poorer. you don't have to worry about it, i guess. a will the of black and brown people worry about it. they have to worry about it. maybe you don't. i don't know. i wonder if he would have had the guts to look into the eyes of family members from el paso or pittsburg or charleston. and say such non-sense. there's a better word. i want to keep my job. or in the eyes of the mother of heather hire. who was murdered by a white
supremacist in charlottesville. would he have the guts to say such non-sense? doubtful. there is some sanity luckily at fox news. a segment on biden's speech. where he accused president trump of fanning the flames. he never mentioned tucker karlson but told his viewers that white nationalism is a serious problem in america. and reported biden if elected vows to put in place sensible gun control measures and expanded background checks. >> marking the unmistakable rise of white nationalism and white racism in america and saying that as president he will work to fight against it. calling us to our better souls. to recognize that white nationalism is real. white nationalism is on the rise. that white nationalism is without question a very serious
problem in america. and beating down those who would help facility it and encourage it. because they are an enormous part of the problem. >> finally. someone over there making sense. which one of the fox anchors drew the ire of the president today? the one who called white sprem schism a hoax or said it's real and on the rise. which is what the fbi says as well. on his way from mourning american city to another. one mourning american city to another. and what about supposed fake news was directed at guess what? guess who? shep smith. for his part tonight tucker told everyone rightfully out raged by his comments to quote calm down.
acknowledging there's racism, fine. we have other problems. and then announced he's taking a vacation from now until august 19. stay tuned. we have more on his comments. a little bit later on in the show. the president travels to dayton and el paso to comfort victims of the mass shootings but turns the spotlight on himself and made a campaign style video of the visit to the hospital. a lot to talk about. next. at t-mobile, for $40/line for four lines, it's all included for the whole family, starting with unlimited data. use as much as you want, when you want. and if you like netflix, it's included on us. plus no surprises on your bill.
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patients when he visited the university medical center in el paso. however the shooting victim did want to meet with him and her family also refused to see the president. did not want to meet with him. and also refuse ds to see the president and judging by his twitter feed and his comments leaving the hospital tonight in el paso. it appears he left the unity message he was calling for on monday in the after math of those deadly attacks. he left that in washington. let's bring in my panel. i want to max, let me get that make sure. one of the victims who was shot three times told cnn that his daughter didn't want to see trump and the family refused to meet with him. i want to clear that up. good evening to all of you. max, the cities of dayton and el paso are grieving. what was on the president's
mind? >> clearly what's on his mind is always what's on his mind. which is looking out for number one. all about donald trump. it's not about the victims. and so he's patting himself on the back taking victory laps. releasing a campaign style video about the visit. and of course he is engaging in venomous destructive partisan right after on monday saying this is not the time for destructive partisan ship. that's what he was doing today. i lost track of how many democratic politicians he attacked today. senator brown. the mayor of dayton. congresswoman castro. o'rourke. former vice president biden. that'sen incomplete list. and attacking the fake news media. this is a president who is incapable of setting aside that destructive partisan ship. he can read a twitter speech a teleprompter speech. but he's out there on the his own on twitter and in the real
world, you see that he is all about partisan ship and not acting presidential. not the person we need in the time of grief to heal our wounds. he is somebody who will simply pour salt into the wounds. >> all this was unfolding i kept thinking about the phrase have you no decency? talking about the love and respect he got in ohio. it was like, what did that have to do with anything? no matter the occasion he makes it about himself. why can't he just say the people are suffering here. americans are pulling together. this should never happen in the country. we need to do better. and the people are representative of that and everyone wants change. instead of me, me, me. i, i, i. >> simple. he's incapable of playing the role that any traditional president, republican or democrat is called onto play in these circumstances. that is of consoler in chief.
somebody who heals and who soothes. he can't heal. because he is the one who helped cause the hurt. he can't console because he's the one who helps create the chaos that em boldens the white supremacists to go on and commit the tragedies. he can't soothe because he is the one who essentially with his toxic tongue as biden said, and his rancid rhetoric are the ones who actually look to frankly we might as well call his rhetoric an accessory to the carnage. he's incapable of doing it because of the role he plays in carrying it out. he doesn't understand that. he doesn't care to understand it. he doesn't care to look inside himself to figure out what role did he play and his rhetoric play. as a latin my community is hurting. the american community is hurting. my brothers and sisters in el
paso do not feel safe. my brothers and sisters who are of a different color skin who speak a different language who come from the s hole countries that this president loves to talk about and degrade. we do not feel safe and welcome in our own country. that's not the america my parents came to. >> daniel, president trump accused brown and the mayor of misrepresenting the hospital visit. you fact checked that. this is false. >> this is false. it's entirely baseless. i don't know if he might have expected them to say negative things about the hospital visit. pu they didn't. brown praised him and saying he was comfortable and did the right things. brown said he was glad trump went to the hospital. the mayor was briefer but said he was well received and first responders and victims were grateful he was there. she prerepeated the same later
an interview. brown briefly said some people at the hospital told him privately they're not huge fans. and said even though peas showed respect to the president of the office. they said he was treated well. >> i watched several interviews. i saw the live thing with the senator brown and the mayor. and interviews with the mayor later on the in the day. no matter how the person interviewed her tried to goad her into saying something negative. she wouldn't fall into the trap. i didn't hear her say one thing negative about the president. she was i thought she was what's the word, not articulate. but. >> decent? >> that's a good word. decent. kind. smart in her language.