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NASA’s moon rocket, Israeli visit, Trump rally: 3 political stories to watch

Yahoo Finance contributor Kevin Cirilli joins the Live show to break down three big political stories to watch this week.

Video Transcript


BRIAN CHEUNG: Welcome back to "Yahoo Finance Live." Plans to return Americans to the moon have hit a snag. Today's much-anticipated rocket launch has been abandoned after a fuel leak. Yahoo Finance contributor Kevin Cirilli in DC with the details. Kevin, apparently due to some leaks that actually prevented them from clearing the window of time for liftoff, what exactly happened there?

KEVIN CIRILLI: Well, there was a leak in engine number three, according to NASA. And we're anticipating new details later today from the Artemis 1 team. Now, it was expected, as you mentioned, to go to the first step, really, in getting humans back to the moon in 2024 or 2025. This, as "Smithsonian Magazine" points out, would be the first time, potentially, for a female to touch down on the moon or a person of color to go to the moon as well from the United States.

Now, in addition to that, it has long-term implications, especially the technology that's utilized on the Artemis 1 at that gateway to Mars. In the-- a couple of years from now, the first step to a manned mission from Mars, according to NASA, could really run through this type of mission. So it is a bit of a letdown. Vice President Kamala Harris was anticipated to be in attendance with her husband at the Artemis 1 launch.

But the next possible window, according to news reports, would be a September 2 launch. NASA says safety always comes first. They are-- they have not yet said whether or not they will take a launch on September 2. But the geopolitics here, we should note, is really fascinating because it comes at a time in which the US has put new energy into NASA and into the space program at a time in which Russia, for example, is pulling out of the International Space Station and China has ambitions of its own for space as well.

AKIKO FUJITA: Yeah, Kevin, no question there's a lot riding on this for NASA, especially just given the developments we've seen on the private side of things for so many years. Let's shift our attention to geopolitics now, an Israeli delegation in the US to discuss the Iran nuclear deal. We know Iran has been very much opposed to US efforts to revive the deal. What are we expecting here?

KEVIN CIRILLI: Well, three things. First and foremost, the Mossad chief is anticipated to come to Washington in the next couple of days to meet with US congressional staff and members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees in closed-door briefings. This comes as other Israeli officials went to CENTCOM down in Florida last week to continue talking about their concerns and apprehension for the US re-entering, should they, into an Iran nuclear disarmament deal.

Secondly, look, the European Union and the United States are reportedly having those negotiations with Tehran. Those talks are expected to continue into September. Third and finally, this is really all about energy, and in particular oil because as the EU has sanctioned Russia as a result of Russia's war with Ukraine, that could present an opportunity for Iran to enter back into the market with their oil. And that's really where they feel that they have leverage.

But of course, the security concerns are what the Israelis are raising. And we should note that there are many Democrats, and not just Republicans, who are skeptical of the US re-entering into an Iran nuclear disarmament deal. That was something that the Trump administration withdrew from back in 2018.

BRIAN CHEUNG: And then, Kevin, lastly here, Donald Trump set to head to Pennsylvania to put his thumb on the scale for the midterm elections. Where is he headed? Is he going to Delco? And who's he stumping for?

KEVIN CIRILLI: No, he's not going to Delco. He's going to Wilkes-Barre, just up the road a little bit, more than a little bit. Look, Pennsylvania politics for the Republican Party is just perhaps the most important swing state in this election cycle. In the Senate race, you've got Fetterman, who's the progressive Democrat who was really seen as a long-shot candidate, but now he has surged in the summer. A new Franklin and Marshall poll has him beating Dr. Oz 43% to 30%.

Oz has had a rough summer. I mean, he had that whole thing with the crudité, where he had that online grocery gaffe that went viral. But in addition to that, he also has seen really weary establishment Republicans in the state be very skeptical, not just of what he would do for the state, but also of his foreign policy.

And then secondly, in the gubernatorial race-- so Trump will be there campaigning for Oz, but also Doug Mastriano. Doug Mastriano is the Republican who's running for governor who also is struggling in the polls. And a handful of top Republican officials in the state of Pennsylvania just a month ago went out and endorsed-- get this-- the Democrat, the state's attorney general Josh Shapiro.

And really, now, you have two candidates in Dr. Oz and Doug Mastriano who are doubling down on their MAGA roots. And Trump is going to go and campaign for them. Trump won Pennsylvania back in 2016, first Republican to do it at the presidential level since 1988, but he lost it to Joe Biden, Scranton's Joe Biden, in 2020.

AKIKO FUJITA: Yeah, it's going to be interesting down the stretch here. I mean, you even have Mitch McConnell, right, coming out and saying that the quality of candidates are in question. He thinks that may be the momentum shift in favor of the Democrats. So a lot to cover, I know, Kevin, over the next few months. Always appreciate the time. Kevin Cirilli joining us there.