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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Terrorism Not Ruled Out in Plane Crash; Investigators Recover Black Boxes From Plane Crash; Crashed Jet's Safety Record in Spotlight; Carson Tops Trump in New National GOP Poll. Aired 7-8:00p ET

Aired November 2, 2015 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[19:00:10] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, a plane mysteriously falls out of the sky moments after take-off killing hundreds. Was it a terror attack?

Plus, the plane's tail. A damage from an -- years ago can take a plane down. An OUTFRONT special report tonight.

And breaking news, Ben Carson surging leading Donald Trump by six points in the new national poll released just moments ago. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, terror or catastrophic malfunction? Investigators at this hour pouring over the wreckage of Metrojet Flight 9268 and the plane's black boxes. They are trying to figure out if terrorists attacked the airbus jumbo jet killing 217 passengers and a crew of seven. An ISIS linked group claims responsibility for shooting down the plane and says it got the video to prove it. Now, the plane took off from a popular resort of Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt. It's a luxury destination in the region where ISIS linked groups says successfully attacked Egyptian military forces. The plane's cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder, the so-called black boxes have both been found, they are being analyzed as I speak. And we're also learning more about an incident years ago with the plane's tail but investigators are focusing on as possibly relevant to a sudden and massive possible mechanical malfunction.

We have every angle of the story covered. We begin with Arwa Damon OUTFRONT tonight in Cairo. Now, Arwa, we know the flight crew did not send a distress call. What are officials saying tonight about the possibility of terrorism?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, at this stage, Erin, all officials are pretty much ruling out the idea that the plane was shot down. As to whether or not this may have been a terrorist attack, that is not being dismissed at this stage but there is no evidence that indicate that it was an act of terrorism. All of that being said, there is also no clear explanation as to what brought that plane down.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAMON (voice-over): The mystery of what brought down a Russian passenger jet, killing all 224 people on board, including at least 25 children, has only deepened. The only thing international investigators seem to agree on is that the airbus a-321, operated by the Russian airline Metrojet, broke apart in the sky, disintegrating just 23 minutes after takeoff from Egypt's Sharm El-Sheik airport headed for St. Petersburg. Radar information indicates that at that point early Saturday, the plane lost speed and descended rapidly. Wreckage spreading over an eight square-mile area in the Sinai desert. The plane's black boxes have been recovered but not yet fully examined. Airline officials say there was no warning from the crew and offered only a broad explanation as to what may have happened.

ALEXANDER SMIRNOV, AIRLINE OFFICIAL (through a translator): The only reason I could explain the plane's breaking up in the midair can be a certain influence purely technical mechanical impact.

DAMON: The question all are asking, could ISIS have shot down the plane or was there a bomb on board? Tonight, at least five airlines are rerouting their planes to avoid the Sinai region. U.S. Intelligence officials say, it's too soon to know if terrorism was involved.

JAMES CLAPPER, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: It's unlikely but I wouldn't rule it out. We don't have any direct evidence of any terrorist involvement yet.

DAMON: An ISIS affiliate is claiming responsibility. However, the terror group most advanced surface-to-air weapons are believed to shoulder-fired missiles.

PETER GOELZ, AVIATION EXPERT: Shoulder-fired missiles really have an effective range of somewhere between 12 and 16,000 feet at the max. This plane was up at 33,000 feet.

DAMON: Initial examination of the wreckage and victims fail to find any evidence consistent with a bomb. Records show that the plane was 18 years old and had logged nearly 21,000 flights while it passed a routine safety check prior to takeoff, the plane's tail had been damaged in a 2001 landing and repaired.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DAMON: And Erin, the co-pilot's ex-wife said that he had spoken to their daughter just before departing. According to her, he said that he was expressing his wishes that the plane was in better technical condition. That being said, airline officials were very quick to say that the plane, that passenger jet was in pristine condition, all of this of course raising a lot more questions as people search for answers -- Erin.

[19:05:06] BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Arwa Damon.

Matthew Chance is OUTFRONT in St. Petersburg, Russia. And Matthew, what are you learning about the black boxes?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, not a great deal at this stage, Erin. We know that they have been found of course, that is good news both of the black boxes are in the hands of the Egyptian authorities who are examining them with the Russian authorities as well. There's also an impact from the French, and from the airline company, the aircraft manufacturer, airbus, in an undisclosed location inside Egypt we understand. But we haven't been given a timeframe yet on when the results are going to be made public and certainly nothing has leaked from the investigation so far in terms of what the black boxes have revealed. And so we're waiting to hear from those authorities.

BURNETT: And Matthew, 224 people lost their lives. Unimaginable horror. People coming home from vacation. These were families and there were a lot of young children on board.

CHANCE: It's one of the features of this flight that it has touched the hearts of so many people inside this country. Russia is no stranger to airline disasters affected by terrorism. It's, you know, it had technical failures in the past. But look at all of these flowers behind me and candles and children toys that have been laid here over the course of the past three days. This was a tourist flight. It was families on that way to capture some winter sun all the way back to some winder sun in the Sinai Peninsula before the winter starts in earnest here in Russia. Twenty five children on board as well and that's really led to an outpouring of public grief but not just the children on board, the orphans that were created inside of Russia because there were a good number of couples that left their children with relatives here in St. Petersburg and went to spend some adult time on holiday with each other. And as a whole kind of group of orphans that have been created by this catastrophe as well. So something is really touched people inside Russia and elsewhere, of course.

BURNETT: All right. Matthew Chance, thank you very much. The picture of that little toddler looking at the window at the airport, taking obviously that toddler also died on the flight. Just horrific.

OUTFRONT now, former CIA Operative Bob Baer, also the former inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation Mary Schiavo and the former FAA Safety and Inspector David Soucie. Mary, let's start with the bottom-line of how this horrific crash could have happened. Could this be terrorism?

MARY SCHIAVO, FORMER INSPECTOR GENERAL, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: Well, it could be terrorism. I wouldn't rule out terrorism or mechanical at this point. It could be obviously as people are speculating missile that seems unlikely but it also could have been a bomb. Pan AM 103 comes to mind of course and that was plastic explosives and just a small amount. So, Erin, anything is on the table at this point.

BURNETT: And Bob, obviously the missile scenario being dismissed by many simply because they say the ISIS-linked groups in that area would have had the ability to hit a plane flying at the altitude, this plane was reportedly at 31,000 plus feet. Could a bomb though have been possible?

BOB BAER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Oh, very easily. It could have been put on the ground in Sharm El-Sheikh with the barometric switch to go off at 30,000, 31,000 feet. These things can even be made with balloons and a piece of thin foil that when it reach a certain altitude they blow up. They are very easy to put on there, very destructive. And as Mary said, a very low amount of explosives can take this plane down, split them in half.

BURNETT: And you're saying Bob, it could have been programmed for a certain altitude that, you know, so that once it hit this level, it would just explode.

BAER: Well, exactly. Barometric switches is a technology that's throughout the Middle East, the Islamic State could have easily picked up one of these switches, understand the technology, it's old technology back to the '70s, how to blow up an airplane with these. Very hard to detect. The security in Sharm El-Sheikh is not the best in the world, getting a bomb through there, yes, it's possible.

BURNETT: David, if it's possible that it was a bomb, how big of a bomb would it have had to be? I mean, you know, we're talking airbus-A320 family, 224 people on board. This was a big jet.

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Well, the pressure differential in an aircraft is maintained at about 9 PSI-D, differential. If the pressure exceeds that, it goes up to about 15 or 16. As Bob has mentioned, it can fracture the hull or the structure of the aircraft. So to get it from 9 PSI-D to a 15 or 16 PSI-D is not that hard to do. It takes just a quickly accelerated mass of air so the bomb would have been there not have to be very big. Now that being said, with the barometric pressure devices, I know that that airport is specifically equipped with barometric testing devices for baggage literally every bag that goes through there is tested for barometric pressure switches in them. So, it would have -- if that was the case, which could very well have been, it would have had to have been put on in some other way so that it's not part of the baggage system at least.

[19:10:15]BURNETT: So, Mary, let me ask you about that. I mean, this plane was flying from a very popular tourist destination. Is it possible that someone on the ground could have tampered with the plane, you know, some sort of someone, you know, who would have had access to the plane, mechanic or otherwise?

SCHIAVO: Right. It could have been tampering on the ground, could have in baggage as David mentioned, could have been put on by anyone working at the airport that had access to the planes. I mean, even in the best of security, you can get persons to work on the inside, or it could have been a timer switch. Didn't necessarily have to be barometric switch, it could have been a timer switch.

BURNETT: And Bob, would we have the ability to figure out what happened if this did happen? I mean, would there be an obvious residue everywhere or would they have the technology, from your understanding of this sort of ISIS linked group to do something that was harder to trace?

BAER: I think there would be explosive residue. I mean, there's some exotic explosives that look like normal material. But I don't think they have this ability, I think the best scenario, if indeed there were terrorists involved with some sort of a plastic explosive, that's the best way to shatter the skin of an airplane. And then certainly a thorough investigation would uncover that. And I think we should know, well, it would appear in the baggage, if it had been on the baggage hold, or it had been in the overhead, if it had been on the wing, you will see residue and they will eventually figure that out.

BURNETT: So, David, you know, an ISIS-linked group released a video. Here's what it shows. And I want to tell everyone. I'm not going to show it to everyone. But it shows a plane flying, exploding into a fireball and falling from the sky and a plume of black smoke. Now, the reason we're not showing this, is that we're not able to confirm if it was real. Russian authorities dispute it. You've seen it and think it is possible that it is authentic, though?

SOUCIE: I don't know how authentic it is. And of course, it depends on where it came from and they have ruled it out because of that. But if it were authentic, it would fit the same profile as what you see as debris on the ground because of the fact that the tail has been removed in that video after the explosion and the forward part of the aircraft from the back of the wing forward is what is remaining in the video. And if you look at ground, the part that is the largest landing area, the largest crash area, is the forward wing and the fuselage. So, if it turns out that it is real, it would be in line with the type of accident debris that we see on the ground.

BURNETT: And Bob obviously, you know, this still could be mechanical. We just don't know. If it was an ISIS-linked group, if this was terror, this I would imagine could a complete game changer in their ability to do something like this?

BAER: Oh, it would. I mean, it's not just Sharm El-Sheikh. There are other airports. They're also vulnerable. Surface air missiles, sneaking one into Europe is entirely possible. And just these bombs, these technologies, which we can't completely defeat. We haven't learned how to do it.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to all of you.

And OUTFRONT next, the tail. The tail of this jet was damaged in a hard landing years ago. Tails strikes like that are common and they can lead to deadly crash years after an accident. Our special report on that is next.

Plus, breaking news, a new national poll showing Ben Carson sitting on top of the Republican field pulling away from Donald Trump.

And Jeb Bush trying to, quote, "fix it," launching Jeb 2.0. Will it work?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:16:40] BURNETT: Tonight, major questions about how a passenger jet broke into pieces in midair. All 224 on board dead. This same exact plane we have found out suffered major damage to its tail in an incident years ago and tonight there are questions as to whether that incident could have led to this weekend's crash. It has happened before.

Miguel Marquez with an OUTFRONT special report.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The A-321, the newest, biggest and most advance in airbus' most popular line of A-320 planes. More than 1100 A-321s are now flying somewhere in the world according to airbus. About 200 of them are flown by U.S. carriers. The 18-year-old flight 9268 had some 56,000 flight hours in nearly 21,000 flights. Could a rough landing in 2001 have been its undoing?

JUSTIN GREEN, AVIATION ATTORNEY: The fly in public in order to be safe, we need to know what cause this plane crash.

MARQUEZ: The A-321 with its longer body stands a higher chance of its tail striking the runway on landing. Too sharp of a descent or takeoff, the tail can hit. In November 2001, then flying for Middle East airlines, that's just what happened to this A-321. Despite the damage, the plane was repaired.

LES ABEND, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: If it's done properly and done by a mechanic that's experienced and the procedure is followed, it shouldn't be an issue.

MARQUEZ: Airbus rigorously tests its planes for just such a possibility.

PHILLIPPE SEVE, AIRBUS FLIGHT TEST ENGINEER: We go beyond the limit (INAUDIBLE) by really putting the tail on the ground and we just slowly accelerate.

MARQUEZ: For the tests, the planes are equipped with a special skid to prevent damage, shown in this airbus test flight material.

SEVE: If it's too harsh, we can stress the repairs.

MARQUEZ: But tail strikes can be deadly even years after the incident. August 1985 in Japan, the deadliest single crash ever. A packed 747 slams into the side of a mountain leaving 520 people dead.

JUSTIN GREEN, ATTORNEY, KREINDLER AND KREINDLER: It was a similar type of circumstance. They had a tail strike. The repair was made and then after a number of years, you know, there was a failure.

MARQUEZ: The cause traced back more than seven years when the plane's tail scraped the ground on landing. The repairs were not done properly. The plane's tail eventually ripping away from the plane mid-flight. And then there was this doomed to China airline 747, a plane broke apart in the air. Investigators say metal around the repair work weakened and eventually caused a catastrophic structural failure. Since 1982, 31 planes operated by U.S. carriers have had tail strikes according to the NTSB but none have crashed.

GREEN: A tail strike or any sort of damage in the aircraft can cause a problem. And it may not be an immediate problem. It may take years for the problem to develop.

MARQUEZ: From the mangled debris field of Metrojet flight 9268, investigators will have to piece together whether or not an incident 14 years ago brought down this plane, something more sinister or a problem with the plane or pilot previously unknown.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: A pretty sobering report. As you heard, 31 planes, U.S. carriers, having suffered these tail strikes. OUTFRONT now, airbus A-320 pilot Ron Stock and Mary Schiavo is back with me. And Mary, I mean, how common are tail repairs?

SCHIAVO: Well, tail repairs are pretty common in terms of the repairs to the plane but tail strikes, several times a year they happen and they happen more specifically at certain airports. John Wayne Airport is infamous for having them. But the repair is not so much how often they happen but who does it and how well it's done. Because if you get a bad repair, once it's painted over, once it goes back into service, if it's not done right, it's like a ticking time bomb because you never go back to it. You do it, you do the repair and they assume that it's done properly.

BURNETT: John Wayne Airport of course in Orange County, California. I mean, you're talking about this being a ticking time bomb, Mary. This plane's tail was damaged in 2001. Could something that long ago have been responsible for this horrible crash that we just saw?

SCHIAVO: Oh, absolutely. Because over time the repair or the damage to the structure will create wear and tear and once it's painted over, you don't go back and look under the paint job, you can't jack up the paint job and see what's underneath it. And the problem is, of and on these inspections, you don't have an ultra-sonic inspection or test that would reveal it or reveal further deterioration around or under the repair.

[19:21:19] BURNETT: I mean, Ron, this is pretty terrifying for flyers to hear, right? Paint your plane could have a beautiful new paint job and no one have any idea. Would a pilot know if there had ever been a problem on their plane a decade before? Would you be aware of all of this, or no?

RON STOCK, AIRBUS A320 PILOT: Actually, no. A pilot would not be aware. We count on the appropriate maintenance procedures being done. Every time we get in an aircraft, we as pilots check the aircraft maintenance log. If there's an airworthiness sign-off in that log book, that airplane is considered good to go. If we don't feel good about something about the airplane, we won't take the aircraft. But to answer your question, no, we don't see history that far back.

BURNETT: And Ron, you know, the co-pilot's ex-wife said he had told their daughter before the flight that he was concerned with the technical condition of the plane. When you hear that, what do you think?

STOCK: That's hard to say. As I mentioned, the airworthiness signoff, the logbook being clean, is an indication that the aircraft is good to be released into the line. With that being said, we have numerous preflight checks and check lists to go through before we take that aircraft airborne. If we don't feel good about something, even though that aircraft is signed off as being airworthy, we'll return it to the gate.

BURNETT: Yes. And Mary, authorities are telling CNN there was no distress call at all. Is that significant to you, do you think, or no?

SCHIAVO: Well, I think it's highly significant. Because whatever happened, it happened very, very quickly. And losing a structural member like a wing or a tail -- for example, I have to mention the Chalk's air crash in Florida, at about a decade or so ago, in that case, the plane lost its wing. They had a beautiful paint job but they hadn't done ultra-sonic testing. And they did not get a mayday call of there. They did not get a mayday call in TWA 800 with the center wing tank explosion either.

BURNETT: Uh-hm. All right. Thank you both very much.

And OUTFRONT next, the breaking news on Ben Carson, taking the lead in a new national poll released moments ago. Can he overtake Trump as the front-runner?

And the Republican candidates drawing up a list of debate demands including temperature blow 67 degree. Details about the bathrooms. Will the network's case?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Breaking news, Ben Carson surging. The Republican candidate leading a new national poll of GOP voters just released. Carson at 29 percent up seven points from early October and now six points ahead of Donald Trump.

Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT. And Jeb, now is the second national poll to show Carson beating Trump. So now, we've seen it over a period of time in multiple polls. Is this a turning point?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, it certainly could be a turning point in this race. And it's so interesting because the Republican electorate now seems to be saying that they like Ben Carson. Of course, his demeanor could not be more different than Donald Trump. Donald Trump was the leader throughout the summer and into the early fall. They liked his brashness. They liked, you know, how sharp his edges were. I mean, Ben Carson is essentially the opposite of that. That's why I find this so interesting. But it is the beginning of a trend. We don't know if it will hold into the fall of course. This race is very dynamic. It's changing.

But right now, Ben Carson is the man to beat here. And it's not because of his policy positions, necessarily. Because he's not given that many specific policy positions. But I think that it's more that they are looking for someone who is, A, an outsider, like Donald Trump, but, B, someone whose volume is not turned up quite as loudly as Donald Trump. So now the challenge for Ben Carson of course is to see if he can hold onto this. Because Donald Trump of course is not going anywhere here and he's yet to spend a dime on advertising. Ben Carson is advertising. So, that is also probably fueling at least some of this.

BURNETT: All right. Absolutely. And of course Donald Trump is still the front-runner, I mean, in most polls but this is the second one, which is significant. Now, Marco Rubio -- many people say he won the last debate. He got a lot of credit for that. He's essentially flat though in this poll. Is that a concern? I understand it was done before and after the debate.

ZELENY: Right. I think that's one important thing to keep in mind here. The debate was conducted over a span of five days. Four days were before the debate, one day was after the debate. But I think it's too early to say if Marco Rubio has flat-lined in a national survey. Where Marco Rubio is trying to jump out now and show strength now in those early states, those Iowa polls, New Hampshire, South Carolina. He's trying to jump-start his campaign and more importantly get support from donors and others who are looking for a horse who can go the distance here. So, I think Marco Rubio is still in good position here. We'll have to get a little more information coming up to see how much of a lead he has after that debate. This poll doesn't quite offer us enough information.

BURNETT: Al right. Thank you very much, Jeff.

ZELENY: Thank you.

BURNETT: And this poll -- this national poll comes as the GOP is putting out a list of demands for future debates. And the candidates are starting to fight among themselves.

Sara Murray is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER (voice-over): Donald Trump may not be at the top of the national polls but he's still holding on to a big lead in New Hampshire. A new Monmouth University poll showed Trump with 26 percent support from Republicans, a ten-point lead over Dr. Ben Carson in second.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it's interesting.

MURRAY: And after a strong debate performance, Marco Rubio now surging to third, tripling his support since September. Today, also picking up his endorsement from a fellow senator, Freshman Cory Gardner.

Now, the Republican field is tackling a new challenge: reforming the structure of their presidential debates. JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC MODERATOR: Is this a comic book version of a

presidential campaign?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, it's not a comic book. And it's not a very nicely asked question the way you say that.

MURRAY: After last week's CNBC debate, representatives from several campaigns met on Sunday to determine exactly how their candidates can exert control over how the debates are run.

Now, those campaigns have drafted a letter for debate response sponsors with their demands, like no lightning rounds, campaigns approve all graphics and the temperature in the debate hall must be kept below 67 degrees.

DR. BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We may not get everything in one big bite, but we're making progress. That's the important thing.

MURRAY: While there's consensus on a few issues, each campaign is using the moment to play to their candidate's strengths and downplay their weaknesses. Candidates like John Kasich and Jeb Bush want more speaking time.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Whatever the rules are, they should keep to them. That's all I think the candidates want. The rules were established and they lost control over the entire process last time.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know that Harry Truman couldn't get elected president with explaining the United States of America's health care plan in 30 seconds.

MURRAY: While those competing for more conservative voters want to see different moderators.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you have never voted in a Republican primary in your life, you don't get to moderate a Republican primary debate.

MURRAY: But not all candidates are onboard. Some are already sick of the grumbling, saying they think the debate format is just fine.

CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've no trouble negotiating with the networks and my policy remains what it's always been. I'll debate anyone, anytime, anywhere.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Stop complaining. You know, do me a favor. Set up a stage, put podiums up there and let's just go.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MURRAY: Now, it turns out this agreement with the campaigns is short lived. It is already falling apart and it began with Donald Trump saying he will negotiate directly with the networks. After that, we heard from John Kasich, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, all of them saying they won't sign on to this joint letter about the debates.

BURNETT: All right. Sara, thank you very much.

And OUTFRONT now, the campaign manager for Ben Carson, Barry Bennett.

Barry, you are the man of the moment. This breaking news poll, NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll showing Dr. Carson definitely number one, 29 percent. That's the highest percentage any GOP candidate has gotten so far in this particular poll. That is significant.

The election, though, is a year away. Hillary Clinton was leading Barack Obama by 20 percent at this point back in the last election.

Can Dr. Carson maintain this lead?

BARRY BENNETT, BEN CARSON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Yes, because he's the only one who has the vision for making the Republican Party bigger, bolder and better. That's really something that people are looking for out there.

BURNETT: This is the second national poll that showed Dr. Carson leading, right? There was one other. This is the second.

BENNETT: Yes.

BURNETT: When you started leading in Iowa, Trump said, I'll quote him, "I don't get it." Are you prepared for him to start attacking Dr. Carson more now? This is now a second poll, as you heard Jeff Zeleny say, possibly the beginning of a trend.

BENNETT: It -- you know, really doesn't matter to us if he does or he doesn't. We're going to talk about the problems America is facing and our solutions for them. And again, how to make the party bigger, better and bolder.

BURNETT: Now, you said you want more of a chance to put out policy descriptions. Obviously, a criticism of your campaign has been that we haven't heard a lot of specific policies. Are we going to get more specific policy suggestions?

BENNETT: We've been trying. Every time we have a debate about the economy, all we get asked about is gay marriage. Yes, we're trying. You're going to hear a lot more about it.

BURNETT: So, you're frustrated with the debates. And, look, as you know, you and I talked about this. You were one of the leaders here in this conversation between the campaigns to try to change the debate terms.

So, some of the demands, though -- you're saying you don't want to talk about gay marriage in an economic debate. You want to talk about the economy. Some of the demands in the memo that's come out from your meeting

are the temperature. It must be less than 67 degrees. No lightning round questions. Candidates can't ask each other questions. Campaign must approve of the graphics use during a debate. No reaction shots of the audience or moderators on video during the debate, even specifics about location at the backrooms.

How is that substantive?

BENNETT: Well, this is exactly the same letter that was used four and eight years ago.

[19:35:01] That's the big change. There's no change.

We just want to know this information. We have a debate in, what, nine days, eight days in Milwaukee and I know precious little about it.

BURNETT: But these demands would not -- would not apply to that debate, right?

BENNETT: No. But I mean, it's the way the process has been going. We just wake up, we're expected to be there and they tell us what we're supposed to do. When we are not show steers in an arena. We are candidates running for president, and we should be wanting to talk about our plans for America and instead of gotcha questions and where you stand on gay marriage.

BURNETT: Then, why put forward this list of details? Even if the optics, I understand your point. This list has been put out before. Why not throw out stuff like the temperature in the bathrooms and go for the substance? Obviously, these other things don't create the image that you care about substance.

BENNETT: Well, all we wanted was data back from the broadcasters. Some of the stuff -- I mean, we've had three debates. Not all of them have been run very well, frankly. And they should have been run a lot better.

And we're not in this to make, you know, CNN money or FOX money or CNBC money. We're in this to have a substantial debate about the issues and that doesn't appear to be what some of the networks are interested in and that's very frustrating.

BURNETT: All right. Some of your rival campaigns, though, also don't seem interested in these demands. Have a listen to the candidates today.

BENNETT: Yep.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: There's a lot tougher things you'll have to do than debating, going to nine debates in the Republican primary.

FIORINA: My policy remain what is it's always been. I'll debate anytime, anyone, anywhere.

CHRISTIE: And if you think people watching those debates really, really cares about the future of the country is worried about whether a bathroom is close? Come on. If you can't exert bladder control for two hours, maybe you shouldn't be president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Humorous side, Barry. You don't even have all of the candidates on board with the demands you're putting forth.

BENNETT: Some of the demands in the latest poll would not even make the stage. So, you know, there are all kinds of egos involved. We're trying to do something that -- somebody who was in that room on Sunday night is going to be managing the fall campaign. I don't know who it is. Nobody does. We want to make sure we don't damage the brand before we get there by allowing stupid things to happen.

BURNETT: Donald Trump will not sign on either. Obviously, the sound bite I played was Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, and Chris Christie. But Donald Trump certainly would be on that stage. What do you say to him?

BENNETT: Yes, I mean, I talked to the Donald Trump folks just a few moments ago. And, you know, they are going to send their own letter or -- you know, that's fine. They are sticking to the principles that we agreed to. There's no deviation from that.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Barry. Good to talk to you, sir.

BENNETT: Thank you.

BURNETT: OUTFRONT next, Jeb Bush with a major campaign relaunch and a new book, one of his major fundraisers is OUTFRONT.

And, wreckage found. The cargo ship that sank during a hurricane found three miles deep on the ocean floor.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Tonight, Jeb Bush fixing it, hitting the road to turn around his floundering campaign. But is this Jeb Bush 2.0 or just more of the same?

Athena Jones is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BUSH: Our story is about action, doing, not just talking.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jeb Bush rolling out his new slogan in Florida today. Jeb can fix it but that slogan is leading many to wonder if it's the country or his campaign that he's trying to fix.

BUSH: And as your president, I will fight every day with the reformer's heart.

JONES: Bush is hoping his multi-city "fix it" tour will place a renewed focus on what he calls his proven conservative record and, perhaps more importantly, give him a much needed boost in the wake of consistently weak poll numbers worry donors --

BUSH: I've gotten a lot of advice lately myself, more than enough, thank you.

JONES: And a weak debate performance.

BUSH: You should be showing up to work.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.

BUSH: I know that I've got to get better doing the debate. And I'm a grinder. I mean, when I see I'm not doing something well, then I reset and I get better.

JONES: Bush's speech today included jabs at front-runner Donald Trump and his surging protege Marco Rubio.

BUSH: The answer is not sending someone from one side of the capital city to the other. You can't just tell Congress "you're fired" and go to commercial break.

JONES: The "Fix It" tour comes as Bush releases a 730-page e- book, full of e-mails he sent and received during his two terms as governor.

BUSH: They used to call me the e-governor.

JONES: The book includes revealing moments, like an angry e-mail Bush received during the Florida recount in 2000, and one from a constituent who claimed Bush was spending too much time campaigning for his brother and not enough time doing his day job -- an attack line Bush has struggled to use against Rubio.

Also included, some gentle ribbing from George H.W. Bush about his son's swearing in photo. The former president saying, "I love the photo of your swearing in. It's so good of you that I got over my being cropped out by the photographer."

The big question for the man hoping to be the third President Bush is whether this latest push will resonate with Republican voters.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JONES: Bush argued today this election is not about personalities but about leadership. And he said he won't play the role of angry agitator because it's not what's in his heart, and it's the kind of attitude that will win the general election -- Erin.

BURNETT: Athena, thank you.

And I want to go straight now to our political commentator Ana Navarro. She's a Jeb Bush supporter, friend of Marco Rubio.

Ana, you're a major fund-raiser for Jeb Bush. Do you think this campaign relaunch will turn his campaign around? Do you feel better today?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I do feel better. Part of the reason I feel better, Erin, I spent some time with him yesterday and this is a guy who doesn't live in a bubble. Jeb has understood, has heard that he needs to improve. Frankly, he needs to improve at this debate. You know, the debates are having a huge influence on the narrative on how this race is perceived on the numbers, on the polls.

[19:45:02] And I think he -- we were joking yesterday morning. He said to me, well, I'm really glad the CNBC moderators were so bad because at least there was somebody at that debate that was worse than me. So, this is a guy that has a lot of self-awareness, knows he didn't do well and has to improve. He's making the changes to his campaign, to his message that I think are needed.

BURNETT: Uh-huh.

NAVARRO: But you know, Jeb is going to be Jeb. He's going to be the same core Jeb but I do think he understands that he's got to project himself as more forceful, more energetic.

BURNETT: Right.

NAVARRO: With a fire in the belly and be a better candidate.

BURNETT: And you're saying, you know, just portray himself as someone with more fire in the belly, to be more forceful. But we actually took a look at some of the things he's saying now and this relaunch day versus what he said back in June when he launched the first time. I want to play it for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: I know we can fix this because I've done it.

I know I can fix it because I've done it.

Every life matters. And everyone has the right to rise.

Every life matters. And every American.

Every American has the right to rise to their God-given potential.

I will campaign as I would serve. Going everywhere, speaking to everyone, keeping my word, facing the issues without flinching and staying true to what I believe.

I will be true to myself, optimistic and inclusive. My message will be an optimistic one. I will not trade in an optimistic outlook to put on the cloak of an angry agitator. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Ana, that's the same guy saying the same things.

NAVARRO: And it will be the same guy, Erin. This is a guy who is hell-bent on not changing, of not being inauthentic, on not pretending to be who he is not.

So, it will be the same guy. Frankly, he's got a pretty good message and he had done pretty well from that campaign launch.

The debates have been his Achilles heel. He's got to focus squarely on how to slay that debate dragon.

Jeb hadn't debated in well over a decade. He's never debated with ten other people on the stage. He needs to figure out how not only to be Jeb Bush, the policy guy, but also Jeb Bush the performer and understand that one thing doesn't negate the other. One thing is not exclusive to the other.

I think he's heard that message loud and clear. Look, I don't expect Jeb to change. He's not going to change his pants, he's not going to change his ties, he's not going to change his glasses, he's not going to change who Jeb is, but, you know, he needs to be speaking to the electorate.

BURNETT: OK.

NAVARRO: So, this question of whether he has fire in the belly does not come up.

BURNETT: All right. Ana, thank you very much.

And OUTFRONT next, the El Faro cargo ship lost at sea during a hurricane, the owners turning to the courts to say they did nothing wrong. We'll share the outrage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:52:10] BURNETT: Tonight, wreckage found. Remains of the doomed U.S. cargo ship El Faro spotted nearly three miles under water upright on the ocean floor. Investigators sending an unmanned vehicle down to see its condition and look for the missing crew members. The ship sank after sailing into a category 4 hurricane. Thirty-three crew members on board were almost all American.

And now, the company that owns El Faro is filing a lawsuit. They are trying to block family members from suing them, sparking outrage.

Martin Savidge is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Confirmation the El Faro has been found brings new heartbreak to the families of the 33 people lost. MARY SHEVORY, MOTHER OF CREW MEMBER MARIETTE WRIGHT: I wonder

when she knew the ship was sinking, if she had tried to figure out some way to escape or some way to save everybody on there.

SAVIDGE: And their suffering may not be over any time soon. While the U.S. Navy was still searching for the ship that disappeared October 1st in the middle of a hurricane, El Faro's owners TOTE Marine launched a preemptive strike, aimed at limiting what families can receive in a lawsuit. It relies on a law written more than a century and a half ago.

DAN ROSE, MARITIME ATTORNEY: This 150-year-old law was intended to buttress and support a fledgling maritime industry back in the day when we didn't have insurance and it made sense to try to promote industry. But now, the industry is obviously highly successful.

SAVIDGE: Attorneys for the families are outraged.

JASON ITKIN, FAMILY ATTORNEY: They are relying on an old law, a law that was enacted back when we had wooden ships, wooden sail boats transferring cargos. It's -- it's -- the family feels betrayed.

SAVIDGE: In the complaint filed Friday in U.S. district court in Florida, the owners seek, quote, "exoneration from or limitation of liability," unquote. If the company were found to be liable, it suggests paying the families based upon a 1980s value of the cargo, plus the value of the vessel itself.

ROSE: In their own papers, they estimated the value of the vessel which is now at bottom of the ocean at zero dollars.

SAVIDGE: That would mean the most that each family could get is $464,000. So far, five lawsuits have been filed on board El Faro, blaming TOTE Marine, among other things, for improperly maintaining the ship and knowingly sending it off into the path of a growing and dangerous storm.

We reached out to the company to explain the new legal course they are now sailing. TOTE would only say, quote, "The company will not discuss individual legal actions out of respect for the legal process. Our focus remains on support and care for the families and their loved ones," unquote.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[19:55:00] SAVIDGE: It should be pointed out that TOTE is not the only company to rely on this very old law after some kind of maritime disaster. Many companies have, including big names such as BP after the Gulf oil spill and it doesn't always work. But it does show when disaster strikes companies rely on what is a 150-year-old plus defense -- Erin.

BURNETT: Incredible. Martin Savidge, thank you very much.

And we'll be right back.

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"AC360" tonight with John Berman starts right now.