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President Obama Visits Colorado; Supreme Court Surprise; Egypt Leader Vows to Free Terror Plotter; Deadly Shooting at Ft. Bragg; Holder Won't Be Prosecuted; Campaigns Benefitting from Court Ruling; Flight Attendant Loses Cool

Aired June 29, 2012 - 18:00   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kate Bolduan. Good evening, everyone.

Tonight: searing temperatures as a record-setting heat wave settles in. And it is going to stick around for days.

Also, President Obama flies to Colorado for a close-up look at the wildfires there and what he calls enormous devastation.

Plus, the biggest mystery in the nation's capital: Why was conservative Chief Justice John Roberts the deciding vote in favor of President Obama's health care reform?

We begin with the heat and a lot of it. Locations around the country are setting all-time record highs.

One hundred million people here in the U.S. have endured above-normal temperatures so far today, and , sorry folks, the heat wave is only beginning.


BOLDUAN: So, today, President Obama traded Washington's 104-degree heat for the 90-degree temperatures of Colorado Springs. This is the view from Air Force One as it flew over the mountains.

And you can clearly see the smoke from some of Colorado's wildfires. Pretty amazing. The president walked through what he called the enormous devastation in one of the neighborhoods charred by the Waldo Canyon fire.

That 16,000-acre blaze is blamed for at least one death. Another person is missing, and at least 346 homes have been destroyed.

One family that got out safely, thankfully, didn't know their home's fate until they saw it on the front page of a newspaper.

CNN's Jim Spellman has their story.


JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the flames tore through his Colorado Springs neighborhood, Major Ted Stefani, an Army sergeant knew it was time to get out. TED STEFANI, LOST HOME IN FIRE: I looked up at the mountain and saw flames shooting over the top of the mountain.

SPELLMAN: With only minutes to spare, he packed up his car and raced out of the neighborhood, meeting his wife, Kate, and son, Caleb at a friend's house. Then the wait began.

Would their house be spared? The answer came in next morning when they saw this picture on the "Denver Post" web site. Their neighborhood in flames, their house on left, a bonfire.

STEFANI: So when we saw the photograph initially, it was just kind of shock.

KATE STEFANI, LOST HOME IN FIRE: That's our house and it is in flames, and I just started crying, there was no way around it. I was never going to go home again, so it's pretty sad.

SPELLMAN: The photo went viral, also published on and in the front of "The New York Times." More photos can be seen at

T. STEFANI: It was just total shock to see your house pretty much in a fireball. But I think that was also therapeutic, too, because we knew over the last couple days where there are a lot of families that don't know the outcome of the home.

We knew from pretty much the get go that we lost the house. We got these boxes that I had from Iraq and Afghanistan.

SPELLMAN: While managing to escape with these boxes of books and important documents, there were many precious items left behind, Ted's medals from Iraq and one of Caleb's beloved toys.

T. STEFANI: It is this little teddy bear thing. Scout, and Caleb played with that all the time.

SPELLMAN: But then they saw another Scout for sale at a bookstore, Caleb lit up.

T. STEFANI: It was an emotional event.

K. STEFANI: Yes. We both about lost it in the store and our son just beamed when he saw that bear, and hugged him and he just said Scout, Scout!

SPELLMAN: Piece by piece, they insist they will rebuild, beginning with a small bear.

Jim Spellman, CNN, Colorado Springs.


SPELLMAN: Kate, even though firefighters here say that they have made a lot of progress, they are not letting up. These are not clouds you here. This is smoke on this ridge side coming up through these canyons.

We are at the U.S. Air Force Academy where the airport here that's usually used for cadets taking their gliders up has been repurposed as a helipad. They have been going in and out, dropping water and retardant on this fire all day. They're not going to let up until they get it fully under control -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: The fire in and of itself is just awe-inspiring in its devastation. That family's story, wow, they have some amazing perspective and what a great attitude despite what they are going through right now. Jim, thank you so much for bringing their story to us, Jim Spellman, Colorado.

SPELLMAN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: As of today, Colorado's firefighters are getting some help from the U.S. military.

Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is here to show us how.

So, Barbara, the military is offering a little help from above, it sounds.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, Kate. The big guns are going to move in.

By tomorrow night, the entire military C-130 firefighting fleet will be on station in Colorado. They only have eight airplanes, and already four of them have been working this fire, eight more now under orders and on the way.

These C-130s, we have seen them in the skies over previous fires. We have seen them in this fire. They do some pretty awesome work. What these C-130s are able to do is drop a lot of fire-retardant or water. Already on the fire, they have dropped 140,000 gallons of fire- retardant. Each time they go up, they can drop another 3,000 gallons of either retardant or water in five seconds, covering an area one- quarter-mile-long and 100-feet-wide.

And when they come down and reload, they can do that in 12 minutes and go right back up. So this is some serious muscle power. In addition, the Army today started training over 500 troops, ground troops, that can be used if the Forest Service needs them to do some of the grunt work, essentially, that very tough work digging ditches, digging firebreaks, trying to help out where they can with the fire -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: So, Barbara, you talk about this being some serious muscle power, and it sure seems like it. Is the Pentagon making any prediction that this help that they are offering is finally going to help the state turn the corner in controlling the fire?

STARR: You know, they hope so. But it is going to really be a lot weather-dependent at this point.

This is the kind of help that will be supplementary to what the Forest Service is already doing and the hundreds, if not thousands of firefighters and pieces of equipment already on the line and the other aircraft already working this fire.

A lot of this, especially those 500 U.S. Army ground troops, they are going to be able to give -- if ordered in, they are going to be able to give the firefighters a break after so many days on the line. Everyone is exhausted. They are going to need a break. And so what these troops can do is come in and help out that way. But, you know, this is a battle against Mother Nature and the weather at the end of the day -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely, Barbara. And in covering wildfires in the past, just the amount of work and nonstop work that these firefighters put in, they must be exhausted. Barbara, thank you so much.

STARR: Sure.

BOLDUAN: Still ahead: Washington's biggest, most-talked-about mystery. Stay with us for a closer look at why Chief Justice John Roberts joined the Supreme Court's liberals in saving the president's health care law.

And later: new details about the Fort Bragg soldier who military officials say shot and killed his commanding officer, then tried to take his own life.


BOLDUAN: One of the biggest mysteries here in Washington today is why Chief Justice John Roberts joined the Supreme Court's liberal wing in upholding President Obama's health care reform law.

Almost everyone considered Roberts a sure vote against the law.

But, as CNN crime and justice correspondent Joe Johns reports, perhaps Roberts' decision shouldn't have been such a surprise.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Conservatives are still shaking their heads.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: It was really a shock.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I'm disappointed in their decision. They came to the decision. I respect it.

JOHNS: How could one of their own on the Supreme Court side with liberals on the court to uphold the constitutionality of the Democratic president's health care plan? But in many ways it was still a conservative decision.

TOM GOLDSTEIN, SCOTUSBLOG.COM: This was a conservative judicial philosophy that says the role of the courts is to be the last resort, not the first resort. We only strike something down when it's a big piece of economic regulation if we absolutely have to. That's still quite conservative. JOHNS: And this type of thinking shouldn't be a surprise coming from Roberts. You need look no further than his confirmation hearings for the evidence.

JOHN ROBERTS, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: Judges and justices are servants of the law. Not the other way around. Judges are like umpires. Umpires don't make the rules. They apply them.

The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. It makes sure everybody plays by the rules, but it is a limited role.

JOHNS: Translation, it's not about legislating from the bench. It's about finding a narrow path to deciding cases. Not exactly what then- Senator Obama thought of Roberts when he voted against his confirmation back in 2005.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D) ILLINOIS: That he has far more often used his formidable skills on behalf of the strong in opposition to the weak.

JOHNS: And as president, Obama kept up his criticism, calling out the Supreme Court over the Citizens United decision, opening the flood gates for outside money into campaigns.

OBAMA: I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests.

JOHNS: For Roberts, the health care decision is a legacy builder, which helps the credibility of the court without throwing away a policy idea that almost every president has grappled with going all the way back to Theodore Roosevelt.

GOLDSTEIN: No doubt he voted this way because he believed it. But for him as chief justice and Supreme Court as a whole, an incredibly smart decision -- insulates both of them from criticism of being partisan out to get liberals, anything like that, for decades.

JOHNS: What's in the background says so much about Roberts. A lawyer worth several million dollars, Harvard grad, 57 years old, husband, father of two adopted children. Roberts has had brushes with health issues including seizures, one as recently as 2007.

Tom Goldstein, who has argued 25 cases before the court, doesn't think the chief justice's health issues impacted his decision.

GOLDSTEIN: I think the idea that his health somehow influenced this is silly. This was a real legal question. He is the consummate lawyer. And there's no reason to believe that anything external influenced him.

JOHNS (on camera): In the big picture, it kind of goes without saying that Chief Justice Roberts is still very conservative, that he is not somehow moving to the middle. This was an unusual case. And there are likely to be more health care cases related to the president's plan.

Roberts and his colleagues will get other chances to show their stripes -- Kate. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: For more on the Supreme Court intrigue, we are joined now by CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein. He is also the editorial director for the National Journal Group.

Hey there, Ron.


BOLDUAN: So, as you heard in Joe Johns' piece, the relationship between President Obama and Chief Justice Roberts has been a complicated one, to say the least. Obama voted against his confirmation in the Senate back in '05 and then very publicly criticized the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United in 2010. You cannot forget that.

And, oh, yes, don't forget that Chief Justice Roberts even had to re- administer the oath of office when the president was sworn into office himself.


BOLDUAN: So, do you think President Obama views the chief justice and this court any differently now after this surprising ruling?

BROWNSTEIN: I think he has to.

I think the chilliness that you describe between the president and the chief justice was more generic than personal or individual. It really was a broad sense in the Democratic Party that the five-member Republican-appointed conservative majority of the court has been an activist court.

And certainly, Citizens United has been exhibit-A in that. And I think the -- Roberts joining with the four liberal justices to preserve the most important Democratic legislative achievement in 45 years really causes everybody the kind of on right and left to step back and take a new look at this court and what it means.

BOLDUAN: Very, very interesting.

I want to read to you part of the majority opinion that the chief justice wrote. It is very interesting. "The Affordable Care Act's requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax. Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness."

He is defining the individual mandate as a tax. And there has been a lot of talk about this today, giving Republicans really, it seems, a new mantra. Listen to a member of the House Republican leadership, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. CATHY MCMORRIS RODGERS (R), WASHINGTON: The court ruled today that, in fact, the Affordable Care Act is a tax. It is the largest tax in America's history.


BOLDUAN: So this happens in the middle, in the heat of the election season. So, do you think this tax penalty, tax penalty, does this create a messaging problem for the White House? How do they respond?

BROWNSTEIN: I think it requires Obama to do something he has never really tried to do very effectively, which is explain the individual mandate and how it works.

Kate, as you know, from the beginning, they have focused on aspects of the bill that they think are more attractive, but are somewhat peripheral, letting kids stay on their parents' policies to 26.

They have never really grappled with the central issue of why, under the logic of the bill, it is important to bring more people into the system and to eliminate what the president called free riders. Now, of course, the most immediate response from the administration will be, this is exactly what Mitt Romney implemented in Massachusetts, as the only other executive, the only other political leader who has signed an individual mandate before President Obama.

And, in fact, it is exactly the same thing. The bills work the same way on this one key question.

BOLDUAN: Bottom long, long-term, politically here, who benefits the most from this Supreme Court decision?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, right now, I saw in some of the initial polling the country divided on whether it was a good decision or bad decision in Gallup.

I think this does put more pressure on Obama in the end. At their best, there have gotten an even split on public opinion on whether this is good for the country. They have never gotten a majority of Americans to say, it is good for me and my family.

And that is a fundamental failure I think of the attempt to explain what the mandate means, what the coverage expansion means. And I think they will be -- look, the economy is going to be front and center. But there will be more pressure on him to explain what this bill means for average Americans, because I think you clearly see Republicans are going to redouble their attacks on it, both legislatively and in a message format as well.

BOLDUAN: Ron Brownstein, thank you so much. Have a great weekend.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Still to come: the Justice Department's quick decision to do nothing about the contempt of Congress citation against Attorney General Eric Holder. But, next, the Supreme Court weighs in on how much money CBS owes for inadvertently showing Janet Jackson's notorious wardrobe malfunction.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back.


BOLDUAN: Egypt's new president may be getting off on the wrong foot with his country's military and the United States -- next, what he says next about a militant cleric the U.S. put in prison for plotting terrorism.

And new details about why a soldier at Fort Bragg allegedly killed his brigade commander. It turns out the two men had a long history.


BOLDUAN: In this half-hour of "JOHN KING, USA": Egypt's president- elect vows to free the man jailed for a plot to blow up New York landmarks.

We also have new information about the soldier who allegedly shot and killed his brigade commander at Fort Bragg.

And another delayed flight, another meltdown, but, this time, the tantrum was not from a cranky passenger. It was the flight attendant.

In what many consider a slap at Egypt's powerful military, President- elect Mohamed Morsi, staged an informal swearing-in ceremony in front of a huge crowd in Tahrir Square today. He told his supporters, quote, "There is no power above people power."

But as CNN's Dan Rivers reports, some of the other things he told the crowd aren't sitting well here in the U.S.


DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, a hugely significant day for President-elect Mohamed Morsi as he addressed tens of thousands of jubilant supporters here in Tahrir Square. This is on the eve of his official swearing in as president.

But he was addressing the crowds as if he was already president, a rabble-rousing speech in which he talked about reaching out to other sections of Egyptian society, the Christians, to women. There were lots of reference to the martyrs that had fallen in Tahrir Square and a salute to the whole nation.

He also talked about the free of freedom that had been planted decades ago at the beginning of the last century, watered by the blood of martyrs down the years. And also at one point opened his jacket to the crowd and said, "Look, I'm not wearing a bullet proof vest. I am here with you. I am one of you. I trust you." That was the kind of rhetoric. There was also reference at the end, controversially, to Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, a convicted terrorist who's in prison in the USA. His family was here tonight, and President-elect Morsi was calling for the release of all political prisoners, including this sheikh. That will no doubt anger officials in the United States.

But all eyes now will be on what he does after those rousing words here. It will be his actions in the coming weeks and months and whether he can lead Egypt forward, especially economically -- Kate.


BOLDUAN: Dan Rivers in Egypt, thank you so much.

We also have new information tonight about a soldier who Army officials say shot and killed his brigade commander at Ft. Bragg in North Carolina and then tried to kill himself. CNN Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence has more on why this shooting happened.

So many questions, Chris. Do we know if the soldier had any ties to extremist groups like the Hasan case at Ft. Hood?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right now, Kate, there is no indication that he had any ties to an extremist group. But we do know of an interesting connection between this soldier and the commanding officer that he allegedly shot and killed.

This soldier, I'm told, was part of the security detail for this lieutenant colonel when both were deployed on a tour in Afghanistan. Back here at home in North Carolina, I'm almost told that the shooter was facing court-martial charges, potential court-martial on criminal charges.

The Army had accused him of stealing a tool box from the motor pool. This tool box is worth nearly a couple thousand dollars. And he could have faced dishonorable discharge if he had been convicted after court-martial.

We're told that this was just a routine pre-July 4 safety briefing. In other words, the battalion commander got up there and was just saying, "Good job, guys. Don't drink and drive. Stay safe over the holiday weekend." And that's when the specialist, the soldier, pulled out a pistol and shot him five times. There was a third soldier who was also wounded. But he's out of the hospital; he's OK.

But the bottom line is, this battalion commander was shot and killed, and then the shooter turned the gun on himself, shot himself. We're told right now he's not expected to survive -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Wow. And Chris, we know Ft. Bragg is a very big military base and has been -- and has also been at the center of a lot of problems recently. Is there any talk of this being a systemic issue with the base itself?

LAWRENCE: Hard to tell right now. Just a couple months ago, there was an investigation launched at Ft. Bragg, because you had six suicides and about two dozen domestic violence incidents all within the span of a little over a month.

But right now, not doing the full details of why this shooter did what he did. It's hard to tie it into a larger case, and the fact that he may not survive means we may never get all the answers in this case.

BOLDUAN: An excellent point. Chris Lawrence at the Pentagon, thank you so much, Chris.

LAWRENCE: You're welcome.

BOLDUAN: The Justice Department says the contempt of Congress citation against Attorney General Eric Holder is going nowhere. And CNN has obtained this letter from the deputy attorney general to House Speaker John Boehner. It says, quote, "The department will not bring the congressional contempt citation before a grand jury or take any other action to prosecute the attorney general."

In basically party-line votes, you'll probably remember, although many Democrats did walk out -- House Republicans cited Holder for both civil and criminal contempt. Holder is refusing to hand over documents related to the controversial gun-walking operation called Fast and Furious.

So to sort out what's next or what the possibilities are, we're joined by Gloria Browne-Marshall, a constitutional law professor at John Jay College in New York.

Gloria, thank you so much for joining me. I have a lot of questions, and I'm sure our viewers also do. We learned a short time ago that the Justice Department, as I just said, will not be prosecuting the attorney general, Eric Holder. So what are the legal options that are still in play here?

GLORIA BROWNE-MARSHALL, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR: Well, that's one of the reasons why Congress decided it would go with criminal contempt of Congress as well as civil enforcement of the subpoena.

Civil enforcement of the subpoena means that they are now allowed to hire counsel to go forward and bring a civil action against Eric Holder in his capacity as U.S. attorney general. That means that they get to hire counsel, and there will be a civil action brought. And that civil action could lead to the possibility of, within the next weeks or next months, some type of litigation.

Litigation is a word that there is a claim filed, not that there is actual court action.

BOLDUAN: and of course, that means -- a claim filed also means this could drag on for -- who knows? -- even years. And the point of the civil action is just to try to get these documents from the attorney general.

In your experience, in your view, what are the chances that House Republicans can actually get the documents that they want through civil action? BROWNE-MARSHALL: Well, it has not been successful in the past. This was very similar to the issue under Ronald Reagan with the Environmental Protection Agency in 1982, when there was attempt by Congress to get documents regarding toxic waste dumps from the Environmental Protection Agency. It went nowhere.

And of course, we know under the second President Bush, there was this issue about Harriet Miers, what was known around the U.S. attorney general, Gonzales, and what he actually knew about the firing of other U.S. attorneys across the country. Was it politically motivated? And those documents were not forthcoming.

So we think this will be dragged out. In any instance, what we could see is, if there is a claim during the time in which Eric Holder is in office, he could always then once again invoke executive privilege and not turn anything over, and once again, the case goes nowhere.

I think more than anything else than the litigation, it is the impact politically that is motivating, I believe, a number of these issues.

BOLDUAN: An excellent point. And of course, the best-case scenario for the attorney general is that the civil action goes nowhere, and this basically just goes away. But what do you think is the worst-case scenario for the attorney general realistically?

BROWNE-MARSHALL: Well, realistically, we know that, under congressional contempt charges of this nature, the punishment, one year in prison or up to $100,000 fine. That's not realistic, but that's the punishment.

Under a civil litigation, it's long, drawn-out and costly. It means he has to have his own attorney representing him. And that means it's coming out of his pocket. There will have to be a fund of some kind to pay for these attorneys. And we know that can be very expensive.

BOLDUAN: And in the meantime, it will be a big talker on the campaign trail and will continue to be talked about for months, weeks, years to come. Who knows? We'll follow it. Gloria Browne-Marshall, thank you so much for coming in. Have a great weekend.


So coming up, why Mitt Romney's new ad features Hillary Clinton.

And from court ruling to campaign cash: is the Supreme Court's decision a bigger shot in the arm for Republicans or Democrats?


BOLDUAN: People are figuring out the long-term impact of the nearly 200-page Supreme Court ruling. And the campaigns didn't waste any time raking in the cash.

Take a look at this. Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul tweeted this today: "In 24 hours, @Mitt Romney raised $4.6 million with 47,000 plus donations online. Thanks for everyone's support for #FullRepeal!"

The Obama campaign responded by slamming the Republican opponent for caring more about fundraising than the uninsured. But they were quick to point out that they say they out-raised Romney in the past day. And on, you can get the $30 T-shirt that commemorates the Supreme Court ruling and a memorable moment in health-care time. It says, "Health care -- health reform still a BFD."

Joining me now to talk about the politics of the Supreme Court ruling are some BFD guests: Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen and Republican strategist, Ron Bonjean.

Hilary, what -- which base do you think is most energized by the ruling and this fund-raising effort? I mean, there is a lot of debate.

HILARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: No surprise in a political campaign. It's actually only the bases that are energized. Right? They're excited. And, you know, that's OK. I think from our side, we'll take that. I mean, people are excited.

The president kind of started out the month a little on his heels. And he's ending the month leaning forward, and going into the summer this way is a good thing for the president.

BOLDUAN: And Ron, this repeal effort, kind of the repeal route, is it a smart route? Will it work, you know, long-term in November? Because it worked in 2010 when you talk about, you know, repealing health care. But this -- doesn't this take them off of jobs, the economy?

RON BONJEAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Not when you talk about it raising taxes and impacting -- impacting those who are having trouble right now on this economy. That's the way to thread the needle. And that's what's exciting the base right now.

That's the one thing that Republicans have, is to say this is an unfair tax on American people, and Romney can talk about it, and other Republicans talk about it in battleground states.

BOLDUAN: And the debate over tax/penalty, that's already gotten into the kind of the political conversation, right?

ROSEN: And it's going to be extremely difficult for either candidate to make sense out of it.

First of all, if it is a tax, then Mitt Romney taxed his own constituents in Massachusetts when he said that he never did.

But, the other thing is that the penalty, as it were, affects so few people. Only people who can't afford health insurance -- who can afford health insurance and don't buy it. So, you know, the estimates are that's like 1 percent of the people, whereas when you have President Obama looking for broad-scale middle-class tax cuts and Mitt Romney looking for broad-scale tax cuts for the wealthy. I think a tax debate would be welcomed by the president.

BOLDUAN: I hear the messaging already. I head the messaging already. All right. I want to move on to Romney. I want you to listen to this new ad featuring none other than Hillary Clinton.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Barack Obama's attacks against Mitt Romney, they are just not true, but that's Barack Obama. He also attacked Hillary Clinton with vicious lies.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He continues to spend millions of dollars, perpetuating falsehoods.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney has a plan to get America working. Barack Obama, worst job record since the Depression.

CLINTON: So shame on you, Barack Obama.


BOLDUAN: That was a memorable moment. Does this work, this kind of portraying kind of a little bit like the victim or the David against the Obama Goliath in terms of spending?

BONJEAN: Well, here's what Romney's trying to do. He's trying to take the likeability factor down a couple notches from President Obama. Because right now, the president does lead in likeability.

At the same time, he's weaving in policy and talking about jobs and the economy and using Hillary Clinton as the weapon. So it is a deft ad. It is a very well-crafted ad. And it can have some impact.

BOLDUAN: I mean, there's nothing better than bringing up what happened in the past and throwing it in your face in the present, right?

ROSEN: That's true. It's a good ad. You know, Hillary Clinton obviously has huge approval ratings across the country, particularly with those swing voters and independents. So it's smart.

On the other hand, you know, if Barack Obama started playing all of the clips of what Mitt Romney said and what his opponents said about him during the primaries, you know, that's just going to be a wash.

BOLDUAN: That's a problem with having a long political history, a long political record on both sides, I guess, right?

You were talking about likeability. Let's take -- I want to show you this poll, because Romney's negatives have gone up this month. There's a poll out this week. It's an NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll in battleground states. And you see that, in May, Romney's like favorable/unfavorable, even. Now, there's an 11 -- unfavorable is 11 points higher.

So is he -- it seems clear that the Romney campaign is trying to drive up Obama negatives to dry to balance this out, right?

BONJEAN: Absolutely. You know, Obama has been trying to play the nice guy. He's trying to take him down a notch or two. You know, it's fair game. I think it's a good play by Romney to try to make that happen. You know, and it's a smart move.

ROSEN: I think that people -- you know, no surprise, people are just getting to know more of Mitt Romney. You know, when it was during the primaries, it was a crowded field. And it feels like, you know -- dare I say it -- the more they know him, the less they like him. The attacks on him being a guy who sends jobs overseas when he was at Bain.

I mean, I think this is a problem for Mitt Romney. That the more people hear about his record, the more his unfavorables go up.

BOLDUAN: And let's be honest. We haven't seen -- we haven't seen enough attack ads yet for it to have turned the corner to be -- you know, have the opposite effect quite yet.

BONJEAN: Right. I was going to say, Romney needs to start better defining himself on the economy, better defining himself on jobs. He's still doing that. People are still getting to know him. They didn't know him quite yet.

There was attacks by the Obama campaign on Bain Capital last month. I'm sure that has something to do with that.

BOLDUAN: A little bit of payback.

BONJEAN: Yes. So this ad is a little bit of payback against that, trying to even out the numbers.

BOLDUAN: And so -- OK, so we know we're going into a holiday week. It's been a big week here in Washington. Not only did Congress do something, actually, in extending the student loan -- the student loan break, but we have the health-care decision in the Supreme Court.

So I was wondering and we were wondering here as we were planning the show, what's the message that Democrats, Republicans, they head back to the district and they're getting out there? What is the message, do you think, that they should be hammering this holiday week, because this is when there's a lot of glad-handing with the voters (ph)?

ROSEN: You know, voters actually like it when their government works. They really don't like this back and forth, he said, he said, and it is mostly the he said, he said.

BOLDUAN: Unfortunately.

ROSEN: So I actually think that we have some things this week that people can start talking about in a positive way. If I'm a Republican House member looking to get reelected, I sure would be bragging on the student loan bill and the transportation bill the same way the Democrats are going to. Because it -- having bipartisanship, even though so many of them voted against it, having the bipartisanship of that. You know, having the chief justice of the Supreme Court vote with the liberals on the court on health care, I mean, you actually can make government work for the people if you work together. And that feels like the right message.

BOLDUAN: Let's not be a big Pollyanna. It's still a partisan, partisan place. Isn't it? It's still a partisan, partisan place, right?

BONJEAN: Well, yes. I think the Republicans have two prime messages. One is they're going to go after the tax issue on health care. There's no question about it. They're trying to rally the troops there.

The second thing is, though, they can corroborate (ph) the highway bill. They can talk about the student loan issue and how they tried to make it fiscally responsible. And at the same time, their constituents are going to benefit from it.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. Have a great weekend. Hilary Rosen, Ron Bonjean.

BONJEAN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks so much for staying with me.

So you'll be very glad you weren't on this flight, folks. After passengers were delayed for hours, the flight attendant lost his cool. And you'll hear what he said next.

Plus, a unanimous decision spells new troubles for cycling legend Lance Armstrong.


BOLDUAN: We've seen it all before. A plane -- unfortunately, a plane gets delayed for hours and hours, and the passengers get angry. This time, the flight attendant is the one who loses his cool. And passengers catch him on video.

Now, some think he shouldn't get all the blame. Our Mary Snow has the details.


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On a flight that was delayed for several hours and never got off the ground, an American Eagle flight attendant loses his cool, taking it out on passengers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want to hear anything. We want to not hear anything. Once we close the door. So, if you have balls...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you have balls, is that what he said?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is your time. Otherwise, you're going to have to fly with Jose.

SNOW: What's not on the tape, passengers describe the flight attendant also saying something about this being his last flight.

David Abels was with his 9-year-old daughter.

DAVID ABELS, PASSENGER: Well, people were shocked. And then, you know, bravely some people got up and walked out. And I wish I could have, but I had to get my daughter home to her mother, you know, and she was frightened. The kids were crying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This guy -- this guy is the one doing it, he's the -- multiple people on this aircraft...

SNOW: This is what it looked like when the flight attendant confronted passengers after he made his announcement. By then, American Eagle Flight 4607 had been delayed for about five hours. It was supposed to go from Newark to Raleigh, North Carolina. Rain prevented passengers from even boarding until several hours after the flight was scheduled to leave.

Once on the runway, there were more delays, and then the plane had to turn back to refuel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unfortunately, our hands are tied. We cannot leave until that release is obtained.

SNOW: Passengers deplaned. And by the time they got back on, things came to a boiling point. Police were called.

But passenger Jon Wurster, who was sitting in first class, says it wasn't just the flight attendant to blame. He faults passengers, as well.

JON WURSTER, PASSENGER: I did feel some of the passengers overreacted.

SNOW (on camera): How so?

WURSTER: I didn't feel any kind of threat coming from him. I felt when he went to the back of the plane -- you know, you got to remember, this is one guy against, you know, 100 or so.

And yes, he by no means chose his words properly. And so he's definitely at fault. And I think some of the passengers are also.

SNOW (voice-over): Not something David Abels agrees with.

ABELS: For any passenger who was on that plane to say it was the passenger's fault, it was the flight attendant, the captain. They're supposed to reassure everybody and calm everybody. You think he did that?

SNOW: As for American Airlines, it apologized, saying, "We do not believe that the passengers' frustrations were met with the level of service that we expect from our people, and for that we are truly sorry."


SNOW: And we did try reaching out to the flight attendant through the airline, but the airline says the incident is under review and that it won't discuss personnel matters.

Also, the FAA says it, too, is investigating -- Kate. BOLDUAN: A tough, tough situation for everyone there. Hours and hours on that plane. I can only imagine.

But Mary, you mentioned that the police were called. Was anyone arrested? What came of it?

SNOW: No, they weren't. Two officers came on board the flight. And they decided to turn this over to the airlines. So no one was arrested. And in the end, Kate, you know, that flight was delayed after -- was canceled, that is, after all that. And as one passenger described it, she said, "This was really kind of a perfect storm of what could go wrong on a flight."

BOLDUAN: Oh, my gosh. Talk about a travel nightmare.

All right, Mary. You also have a look at some -- a few of the other stories making news right now.

SNOW: We do.

And we'll start in Syria where the fighting there has claimed at least 42 more lives today. World diplomats hold an emergency meeting in Switzerland to consider a new peace plan. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be at that meeting.

But after talks with Russian's foreign minister today, a senior State Department official says there are still areas of, quote, "difficulty."

Back here in the U.S., a guilty plea today from Bernard Madoff's younger brother. Peter Madoff admitted helping cover up his brother's Ponzi scheme. He told the court, quote, "I know my conduct was wrong, and I'm ashamed. Peter Madoff faces ten years in prison.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency unanimously recommended today that cyclist Lance Armstrong be charged for using performance-enhancement drugs. Five of Armstrong's teammates were also charged. Armstrong's attorney put out a statement, calling the charge "wrong and baseless," adding, there isn't, quote, "one shred of credible evidence."

Now, forget Olympic swimming. Australian Penny Palfrey dove into the waters off Havana, Cuba, today, in a quest to swim across 103 miles of shark-infested waters to the U.S. without a wetsuit or flippers. The long-distance swimmer says it should take between 40 and 60 hours to get to the Florida Keys.

Last year, she set the record for the longest unassisted swim. She'll have a crew nearby following her. Amazing.

And it's the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. And what better way to celebrate than with some cake? Check out this delicious-looking replica of the oldest commissioned U.S. warship, the USS Constitution. It's made of -- get this -- 100 pounds of flour, 80 pounds of butter and 10 gallons of milk. Forget about eating that, just making a cake like that is pretty incredible. BOLDUAN: And I always wonder if people actually, after all the work that goes into it, do they actually cut it up and eat it? It seems like a travesty to do that.

SNOW: Yes, because it looks like a piece of artwork, and it would really be a shame to just cut it up and then have it all gone.

BOLDUAN: Still, if I'm hungry, don't waste it. Cut it up.

Mary, have a fabulous weekend. We'll see you later.

SNOW; Thank you. You, too.

BOLDUAN: All right. And I want to tell you have a wonderful weekend. That is all from me. I'm Kate Bolduan. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.