Sandy Hook Lawsuit Brings CNN Debate to Boil; Sanders, Clinton Brawl in Brooklyn as Race Heats Up. Aired 2:30-3p ET



Brawl in Brooklyn as Race Heats Up. Aired 2:30-3p ET>

BROOKE BALDWIN, HOST, NEWSROOM: The NBA will not move next year's all-star game out of Charlotte, North Carolina. The league was facing enormous pressure to yank the game after the state passed that controversial law that limits legal protections for gay, lesbian and transgender people.

Let's go straight to Polo Sandoval, who's been monitoring that new conference for us in New York. What did the NBA commissioner -- what did he say exactly today?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN: Well, it's a significant message here for the Tar Heel State, Brooke. Because what we're getting here from the NBA commissioner earlier today, actually just a few moments ago, as he addressed reporters, was that he was very resolute about the league's position when it comes to discrimination, whether it be for color or based on people's sexual orientation.

But at the same time, he also said that one of the reasons why the game will move on as scheduled in about 10 months or so there, the NBA all-star game, will be because if it would get yanked out of the state, then it could potentially send a mixed message, given that, of course, there is a North Carolina team that is in the NBA playoffs.

So I want you to hear directly from him about the specific position from the league when it comes to why the NBA playoff game will stay in the Tar Heel State. Take a listen.


ADAM SILVER, NBA COMMISSIONER: The law as it now stands in North Carolina is problematic for the league. There was no discussion of moving the all-star game. What the view in the room was, we should be working towards change in North Carolina.

I have been working very closely with the Charlotte Hornets, with Fred Whitfield, who's the president of the team, and together with ownership down there to seek to effect change in North Carolina.


SANDOVAL: So, yes, directly from the NBA commissioner there, Brooke. Again, just to close this out by saying the league is in a complicated position, but at the same time one that could potentially provide a constructive opportunity for them to work with state lawmakers who, by the way, will meet before the end of the month. And, of course, there is always a possibility of potentially putting some pressure on them to bring in a potential amendment, too. Brooke. So the story not over yet.

BALDWIN: All right, Polo Sandoval, for now, thank you very much on that.

Coming up, one of the most heated exchanges of the night in Brooklyn at our CNN debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders with regard to gun control, specifically, a lawsuit after the Sandy Hook tragedy from a number of Decembers ago.

Coming up, we will speak to the daughter of that Sandy Hook principal, Dawn Hochsprung, who was killed in the Newtown Elementary School shootings. She will join me live. What she thinks about that moment she was name checked twice, and what she would say to Bernie Sanders. Stay here.


BALWIN: Welcome back. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

CNN's Democratic debate in Brooklyn was perhaps the most consequential to date. It was full of substance. It was aggressive. It was emotional. And to one particular person, it was infuriating.

Eric Lafferty is the daughter of Dawn Hochsprung. She was the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School who was killed in that mass shooting in December of 2012.

Ten families are suing the gun manufacturer and seller of the weapon used to murder their loved ones. And the validity of this lawsuit is an extremely polarizing issue for both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. There was a powerful exchange they had over precisely this last night.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And when asked whether he would support the Sandy Hook parents suing to try to do something to rein in the advertising of the AR-15, which is advertised to young people as being a combat weapon, killing on the battlefield, he said they didn't deserve their day in court. I could not disagree more.

And finally, this is the only industry in America, the only one, that has this kind of special protection. We hear a lot from Senator Sanders about the greed and recklessness of Wall Street. And I agree. We've got to hold Wall Street accountable.


CLINTON: But what about the greed and recklessness of the gun manufacturers and dealers in America?

BLITZER: Senator, I want you to respond, but I also want you to respond to this. You recently said you do not think crime victims should be able to sue gun makers for damages. The daughter of the Sandy Hook Elementary School principal who was killed back in the 2012 mass shooting says you owe her and the other victims' families an apology. Do you?

BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, I voted against this gun liability law, because I was concerned that in rural areas all over this country, if a gun shop owner sells a weapon legally to somebody and that person then goes out and kills somebody, I don't know it is appropriate for that gun shop owner who just sold a legal weapon to be held accountable and be sued. But what I do believe is when gun shop owners and others knowingly are selling weapons to people who should not have them.

BLITZER: So Senator, do you owe the Sandy Hook families an apology?

SANDERS: No, I don't think I owe them apologies.


BALDWIN: All right, one of those family members is Erica here. We've chatted many times before. You were name checked twice in that debate there. Nice to have you back Erica, thank you.

ERICA LAFFERTY, DAUGHTER OF SLAIN SANDY HOOK PRINCIPAL: It's great to be here, Brooke, thank you.

BALDWIN: You were watching. You heard your name. Or I guess round about, you know, brought up into that whole back and forth. What did you make of Senator Sanders' response?

LAFFERTY: It honestly is exactly the same thing that he's been doing. It's the same rhetoric over and over. Every time he is pinned against a wall and asked a very direct question, it's time and time again that he just spits out NRS talking points.

And the question was very direct. Do you or do you not owe these families an apology? And he's continually saying that he does not, but he's like wobbling back and forth on the issue. And the issue is whether or not these gun manufacturers and dealers should be responsible, and that's a bill that he voted for. He voted that in.

And he's continuing to defend it but then will wobble back and say well, you know, if they sell 10,000 rounds of ammunition, then maybe. And last night, I believe it was 6,000, then maybe.

I mean, my question to him is, what about Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, who just filed suit over 4,000 rounds of ammunition that was sold. You know, they're standing up. They're asking for an apology, and they have yet to have a sit-down with him.

BALDWIN: Do you know -- I mean, has Senator Sanders or even the campaign, have they ever reached out to you, Erica?

LAFFERTY: I have not heard a word from Senator Sanders or his campaign. I would love to.

BALDWIN: I know you are wholeheartedly supporting, you know, Secretary Clinton as our next president. But I also -- I think I know you well enough to know that if Senator Sanders, you know, called you up and said, I'd like to give you meeting, I think you'd take it.

So my question would be to you, what would you ask him, or what would you want him to know.

LAFFERTY: I would -- I would love to sit down with him. I would love for the Soto family from Sandy Hook to be in the room with me. I would love to be with Sandy and Lonnie Phillips in that room and really just sit down and ask him where exactly do you stand on this, because you're wobbling back and forth.

It's like he's teetering, you know, from one side of the issue to the other and, you know, consistently saying that he doesn't support what the families are trying to do. But then in his very next sentence, he'll say, you know, well, in this particular case, then that might be OK.

BALDWIN: Well, let me just spell it out --


BALDWIN: -- let me spell it out a little bit for viewers. I know you're in the weeds on this. But basically, what this lawsuit involving some of the Sandy Hook families, they're suing the gun manufacturer, they're suing, you know, people who sell the gun, essentially arguing that the military grade weapon that was used to murder your mother and these, you know, first graders should never have been sold to a civilian.

And so Senator Sanders has said, as he repeated last night, that -- you know, that a gun store owner shouldn't be held liable, saying, you know, that this lawsuit would set a precedent, it would go after mom and pop shops. But of course, you know, a gun shouldn't fall in the hands of a bad person. All of that said, where do we go from here?

LAFFERTY: I mean, he always goes back to his defense for the so- called mom and pop shops. But the reality is that the mom and pop shops are a common origin for guns that are found on the black market. So why should they not be held accountable?

You know, I definitely would like to get a more firm answer on what he defines as mom and pop. And, you know, what happens to guns that are trafficked through those stores? Or the straw purchases that happen through those stores?

You know, and that's something that I've heard him call attention to previously. But, I mean, fact of the matter is, that is a very common thing at these mom and pop shops.

BALDWIN: Final question. I just want to end with the most important piece of all of this, which is your mother. And I know you are so totally outspoken. You are so active with Everytown, Everytown for gun safety. You know, you reach out to the latest victims of gun violence. But mother's day is just a couple of weeks away. I cannot imagine what that's like for you. How will you honor your mom? LAFFERTY: Like I have been for the past several years. I will the day before be marching across the Brooklyn Bridge with some of the most loving and supporting activists that I have ever met in my entire life.

BALDWIN: Saying what? Thinking what?

LAFFERTY: It is the 4th annual Brooklyn Bridge march that Moms Demand Action does. And it's really just, you know, a call to raise attention to the issue. And I'm going to be standing with moms who have lost their kids and other kids who have lost their moms. And it is the most incredible way to honor her and just show my love for her on a day that I really wish she could be with me.

BALDWIN: Erica Lafferty, thank you. Thank you.

LAFFERTY: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: We'll be right back.


BALDWIN: The gloves were definitely off in Brooklyn. Really the most fiery and compelling Democratic presidential debate thus far this season. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders duked it out with just days to go until the crucial New York primary. That is Tuesday.

And just look at some of the headlines here out of New York's papers. "Brooklyn Brawlers," "Bern Belts Hill" and "Brooklyn Battle." It was a much different tone from Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders' first debate six months ago. Let's rewind.


BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think the Secretary is right, and that is the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails.




HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait. Wait. I have stood on the debate stage with Senator Sanders eight prior times. I've said the exact same thing.


WOLF: Secretary, Senator, please.

(CROSSTALK) WOLF: Secretary, the viewers -- you're both screaming at each other. The viewers won't be able to hear either of you, so please don't talk over each other.


BALDWIN: Wolf getting in there, the referee.

Here he is, CNN's senior media and politics reporter, Dylan Byers is with us. On the debate -- and why do you think this debate, the tone, has taken such a contentious turn now?

DYLAN BYERS, SENIOR MEDIA AND POLITICAL REPORTER, CNN: Well, and let's just -- you know, how fortunate for New York City that it got as contentious as it did at this point, right, when the Democrats -- you know, the Democrats are here in New York for two weeks.


BYERS: Look, I think what's happening is that there's a lot of contempt between both campaigns and, at this point, between both candidates, and it's been brewing for some time.

For Hillary Clinton, she thought that she was going to have this thing locked up. She certainly didn't think that a 74-year-old Democratic socialist from Vermont was going to be giving her a run for her money and narrowing the gap in the polls. And she's sort of constantly having to come back from her -- from her desire to pivot toward the general election in order to address the Bernie Sanders problem.

And I also think she fundamentally believes that he doesn't have a lot of meat behind his sort of lofty policy positions. And it's hard for her as someone who is so experienced and who gets so into the weeds on the specifics of her policies to see him doing so well with these sort of broad promises that, as we saw in the "New York Daily News" interview, he can't always back up.

For Bernie Sanders, he feels like Hillary Clinton is being dismissive of this movement that he's created, which is clearly a very robust, deep and broad movement, and it's carried him this far and could carry him even farther. You know, she stands up on stage, and I think she feels like she's dismissing that, or she's trying to cast that as if his dreams are improbable or idealistic. And I don't think he likes that either.

BALDWIN: Just a note on the stamina side. Then factor in this septuagenarian socialist and wife hop on a plane, fly to Italy, gives a speech this morning, right, in Vatican City, and comes back for the primary on Saturday morning -- or ahead of the primary on Saturday morning.

That said, I know you, you know, were watching all of this resonate on social media. Who won according to social media? What were some of the big moments?

BYERS: Well, look, I think as you said, there were -- this was by far the most contentious debate of the cycle for the Democrats. If the first eight debates could have been like this, I mean, wow, it would have been fantastic.

So look, there were a lot -- there were a lot of moments. For me, the key moments happened when these candidates, who seemed very prepared for the full two hours, seemed to slip or try to evade certain questions.

Bernie Sanders really didn't have a solid answer for just how he thought Wall Street money had influenced Hillary Clinton. There was clearly a lot of backlash to that among Hillary Clinton supporters.

By the same token, Hillary Clinton didn't really have a good reason for why she wouldn't release the transcripts of those Wall Street speeches. And I think an already galvanized Bernie Sanders fan base really felt like they could go after her for that.

But fundamentally, I don't think this debate, for all the theatrics, for all the fireworks, for all the drama, I'm not really sure it moved the needle. I'm not sure it moved the needle in the state of New York, and I'm not sure it moved the needle nationally.

I really think the Democrats and Independents who are voting Democratic are rallying behind and have rallied behind their candidates. And it's going to take a lot more than what happened last night in order to move the dial on that front.

BALDWIN: We did just get a quick note. We know how many people tuned in to watch the big debate last night, 5.6 million viewers tuning in to us here at CNN.

Dylan Byers, thank you so much.

Coming up, it is also getting quite heated. It's not getting. It has been for quite a while on the Republican side. The latest on this war of words between front-runner Donald Trump and the RNC chair Reince Priebus.

Minutes from now, Donald Trump will be speaking live. There you go. Live pictures. Packed house. Plattsburgh, New York. We'll take it live when it happens. We'll be right back.


BALDWIN: Today marks three years since that Boston marathon bombing, the explosions changing the city and the great people of Boston. Among them, former transit officer Dic Donahue. He was involved in the shootout that stopped the Tsarnaev brothers' reign of terror, but he very nearly lost his own life in the crossfire.

CNN's Bren Gingras spoke with him about going beyond the call of duty.


BREN GINGRAS, REPORTER, CNN: The Boston marathon finish line signifies a new start for Dick Donohue.


GINGRAS: Each day an opportunity for a man, who by all medical standards, shouldn't be alive.

DONOHUE: I bled out on scene. I lost something like over 90 percent of the blood in my body.

GINGRAS: It was the early morning of April 19th, 2013, just days after these explosions changed the city.

DONOHUE: I partnered up with another transit police officer, and we began the hunt, and we eventually heard a call for assistance from the Watertown police officers. We happened to be a couple miles away in Cambridge, and we went to their assistance.

GINGRAS: He was out of his jurisdiction and just learned his academy classmate, MIT officer, Sean Collier, had been killed. That didn't stop Donohue from responding. Though what happened next, he says, is a blur.

DONOHUE: I remember being on-scene just briefly, and the next thing I remember is really kind of waking up and this just incredible fight inside me, and there I am in the hospital.

GINGRAS: That's where doctors told him he had been in a massive shoot-out with the Tsarnaev brothers, who carried out the bombings. The DA's report says he was probably shot by another officer.

DONOHUE: I sustained a gunshot wound to my right leg. It severed the right femoral artery, and I had over 40 minutes of CPR, 46 blood products, and I had six to eight hours of surgery.

GINGRAS: So if they hadn't gotten you to the hospital, like, fast enough, would you even be here?

DONOHUE: I would not.

(Byline: Brooke Baldwin, Polo Sandoval, Dylan Byers)

(Guest: Erica Lafferty)

(High: Brooke Baldwin talks with Erica Lafferty, daughter of the slain Sandy Hook Elementary principal, about her reaction to her name being brought into the political crossfire at the CNN Democratic Town Hall; Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders get into a heated debate at the CNN Town Hall.)

(Spec: Politics)