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More Backlash For Rice Over Libya; Obama Deciding New Cabinet; Dr. Oz Says Eat Your Frozen Veggies; Obama Campaigns for Fiscal Fix

Aired November 28, 2012 - 13:00   ET



SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Suzanne Malveaux. We are focusing on breaking news. I want to go to Dana Bash who is actually on the Hill. This is over the debate. Ambassador Susan Rice is facing more backlash over the September terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.

The U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., she met with two more Republicans today, critics who have criticized her initial comments about the attack, Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Bob Corker of Tennessee. After this meeting, Senator Collins said she is still very troubled by the events surrounding the attack in Libya. Let's listen in.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I still have many questions that remain unanswered. I continue to be troubled by the fact that the U.N. Ambassador decided to play what was essentially a political role at the height of a contentious presidential election campaign by agreeing to go on the Sunday shows to present the administration's position.


MALVEAUX: Dana Bash, she's been following all of this on the Hill. And first of all, Dana, it is quite surprising that Senator Collins, she is one of the few moderates -- moderate Republicans we thought that if Susan Rice was going to be convincing and win over anyone, it would be Senator Collins. She came out very tough, very hard on ambassador Rice. What went wrong for Rice in those meetings? Why are they so concerned?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Senator Collins is one of the few remaining moderates, you're right. That is why this is a pivotal -- potentially pivotal meeting that Susan Rice had when it comes to her future potential nomination for secretary of state. But Susan Collins -- Senator Collins is also the top Republican on the Homeland Security Committee. So, she has been really diving into the details of what happened at Benghazi because they are doing an investigation in that committee. So, she, you know, had a lot of questions and didn't get the answers that she was looking for. As you just heard, she said she is troubled. So, then it comes to the next question which is if Susan Collins will actually say that she would support Susan Rice if she were nominated. I asked her that question, listen to her answer.


COLLINS: I would need to have additional information before I could support her nomination. She's not been posted yet. Our Homeland Security Committee investigation is ongoing. There are many different players in this and there's much yet to be learned. So, I think it would be premature for me to reach that judgment now.


BASH: Now, Suzanne, you talked about this in the last hour with Peter Bergen, but she -- Senator Collins did introduce kind of a new wrinkle in the criticism of Susan Rice and that is that she was assistant secretary of state for African affairs back in 1998 when there were the bombings of the five embassies in Africa happened. So, Senator Collins is questioning Susan Rice's role in that. And I can tell you, just in talking to -- you heard it from Peter Bergen, our Foreign Affairs Reporter Elise Labott also is questioning that saying that -- for the most part, that has to do with diplomatic security, not necessarily the role that Susan Rice had 14 years ago in the State Department.

MALVEAUX: Yes. Peter Bergen telling me that he really thought it was apple and oranges but, obviously, this is a line of questioning now. I mean, they have a right --

BASH: Exactly.

MALVEAUX: -- to ask any kind of questions they want if they think it's relevant in the process. We still don't know if she's going to be nominated as secretary of state. Dana, from the people that you have been speaking with, do you think that that is more or less likely to happen that the president would put her before these senators?

BASH: It's still an open question, you know, because the White House is not saying anything except for the fact that -- you heard the president a couple of weeks ago with a full-throated defense, even angry defense, of Susan Rice. But another meeting that Susan Rice had today was with Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee. Yesterday, he told reporters in the hallways that he thought she would be a better Democratic National Committee chair than secretary of state. He was very careful not to say one way or the other how he would vote if she were nominated. But here is what he did say, a warning for the president.


SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I would just ask that the president step back away from all the buzz around this particular situation and take a deep breath and decide who is the best secretary of state for our country at this time when we have so many issues to deal with.


BASH: And the point that he made is that he and other senators view the role of secretary of state differently from other cabinet posts where traditionally senators tend to give presidents the benefit of doubt that they could have whomever they want in their cabinet. They see the secretary of state differently. One other thing I just want to tell you quickly before we go is that another point of controversy in these meetings that Susan Rice has been having has nothing to do with her and that is yesterday, the acting director of the CIA told Republican senators that it was actually the FBI that changed those controversial unclassified talking points --


BASH: -- that Susan Rice used, then called back six hours later and said, never mind, I was wrong, it was actually us, the CIA, that did it. And I just interviewed Lindsey Graham who was in that meeting who was told the wrong information who just is, you know, as you can imagine, very baffled and very perplexed that somebody as high-ranking as the CIA director -- acting CIA director would tell them something about an issue that is so controversial and such a political -- you know, so politically controversial --


BASH: -- who are absolutely wrong.

MAL VEAUX: Yes. I mean, a lot of unanswered questions, a lot of concerns there and obviously very controversial. Whether or not this even moves forward, the nomination -- potential nomination for Susan Rice.

Dana, excellent reporting as always. But, of course, we're going to check back in with you as you continue to talk to members of Congress. I want to focus on something that Senator Collins talked about, her concerns about the readiness of Susan Rice, given that she was assistant secretary for African affairs during the bombing of two U.S. embassies in east Africa back in 1998. Well, I talked to our National Security Analyst Peter Bergen about whether or not that was even relevant. Here's how he responded.


PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Two embassies in Africa were bombed by Al Qaeda, one was simultaneously in Kenya and Tenseur, killing more than 200 people, 12 Americans died, many Africans. And, you know, Senator Collins is certainly correct that at the time the ambassador to Kenya requested additional security at -- or better security at the embassy because the embassy at that time in Kenya was at a very busy intersection, it was not well-defended against car bombs and the like. As a result of the attacks, the State Department produced new standards called the Inman standards which basically meant that any new embassy or had to be moved back from major intersections --


BERGEN: -- or roads. And so, you know, Collins is certainly right that this request was made. Now, did Susan Rice not respond to that? I don't think we know the answer to that. Was it even Susan Rice's responsibility? Usually, this is handled by the Diplomatic Security Bureau outstate (ph) which is in charge of these issues and so the fact that she was in charge of Africa at the time of the State Department may not have much bearing on this issue. We just -- and, you know, obviously, she's not responsible for security at the Benghazi consulate as ambassador of the U.N. So, we don't really know the facts of the matter and it may -- and it's a tiny bit of a red herring, I think.


MALVEAUX: Debate over ambassador Susan Rice has been intense because she is considered President Obama's top choice to replace secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and the president, as you know, appoints 16 members to his cabinet. Several have said they planned to leave after the president's first term. Clinton, secretary Clinton is one of them. In addition to ambassador Rice, some have suggested the president considering also Senator John Kerry, national security adviser, Tom Donilon, and also on the short list as well.

I want to bring in Doug Brinkley to join us. First of all, thank you very much. Let's put this in perspective, if you will. We've seen this develop over the last couple days and even in the last couple of hours. The critics that are really hitting Susan Rice, they are not satisfied at all with what they are hearing. Is there a point, is there a time now where perhaps the administration is thinking, cut their losses, this is not necessarily the right nominee?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I would hope that that rubicon occurred today. I think when Senator Collins turned her back on Rice, that was not a good omen for her becoming -- Rice becoming secretary of state. It's been a lot of testing and, you know, kind of trial balloons. Can Susan Rice make a confirmation hearing? She possibly could -- very likely could. But it'll be a -- it'll be a bruised affair and I'm not sure our country needs that right now.

Susan Rice is a fantastic American, great diplomat, but she might be better off working in the White House where President Obama admires her so much as national security adviser. And the key part of Collins today was saying John Kerry would pretty much breeze through. Kerry is friends with McCain and Graham and Rakowsky. Kerry could do bipartisanship. And, Look, we've got big problems in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Iran. The whole Middle East is a tender box. It's time to get somebody like Kerry who has the Senate's trust, I think, up on -- above the fold instead of everything being about Susan Rice and Benghazi.

MALVEAUX: Let's look at some of the positions that are open. Is there a potential here for the president to reach across the aisle? He has talked about ushering in a new heir of bipartisanship. Are there some new Republicans that would be good choices, good picks for any one of the open cabinet positions?

BRINKLEY: Well, absolutely. Franklin Roosevelt did this at the outset of World War II. He picked Frank Knox to be secretary of the Navy, and he picked Henry Stimson to be secretary of war, both Republicans. You saw Barack Obama keep Bob Gates as secretary of defense who did a fantastic job. So, yes, somebody like Chuck Hagel, for example, at defense would go very far because he has developed -- he's Republican, from Nebraska and everybody on Capitol Hill likes him.

MALVEAUX: Is there anybody you think that would make a real impact, a real different approach, even a cabinet shakeup that would dramatically form what we are going to see in the second term for President Obama?

BRINKLEY: Most important thing is President Obama to put the best people he can find. You know, we like, in the United States, name people. Bill Clinton is so high and there's been some people joking, isn't there a role for Bill Clinton?


BRINKLEY: Could Clinton be something like ambassador to the United Nations? I know that seems quite far-fetched but many ex-presidents have covered the roles. I mean, William Howard Taft went to the Supreme Court and many ex-presidents became U.S. senators. Somebody like Bloomberg, who really has bold ideas on the economy. I doubt he would want something, but all I'm suggesting is you don't always want to just get people from the bureaucracy.


BRINKLEY: Sometimes you want to people the best people in the country for those posts. Lincoln certainly did that with the famous team of rivals idea.

MALVEAUX: And, Douglas, just to be the fly on a wall tomorrow at the White House. The president is going to be hosting Mitt Romney for a lunch -- a private lunch. How important, how significant is that? Even if it's symbolic that you have these two rivals having lunch together at the White House?

BRINKLEY: Extremely important. It's the right thing to do. It's going to be a good photo-op for the country of Obama and Romney together. I mean, remember, in 1960, Kennedy barely, barely beat Nixon. And yet, they met and it had a great healing effect. In 2000, the whole Florida hanging chads debacle that ended up having George W. Bush declare president ostensively by the Supreme Court over Al Gore but then they met and Gore admitted he lost. And so, it was very healing. So, it's an important step tomorrow to garnering a new spirit of bipartisanship, if that's possible.

MALVEAUX: We hope it's possible. We know that secretary Clinton, you know, she must -- was once was a rival of Obama. Do you think that Mitt Romney, is there a place for him in the administration?

BRINKLEY: No. Mitt Romney has a lot of money, and he should go enjoy it, I think, at this point. He's -- it's not his time. He needs to do other things. There's no real role for him in the Obama administration. It wouldn't work. After all, he's been somebody who's been a -- he'd have to be a cabinet person and then it would be a mess. So, this is really just a photo-op tomorrow but a nice healing one and you have to say both the president and Mitt Romney are doing the right thing by engaging in that tomorrow.

MALVEAUX: All right. Douglas Brinkley, good to see you, as always. Thank you.

BRINKLEY: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: Here's what we're working on this hour.

(voice-over): The Powerball jackpot is now more than $500 million. What are the odds of winning?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's one out of a million, but it will be less if I don't play.


MALVEAUX: The Powerball frenzy.

And you don't have to buy organic or fresh veggies from the farmer's market to eat healthy. Supermarket deals can do the trick. Dr. Oz on foods that really pay off.


MALVEAUX: Your mother told you eat your vegetables. Dr. Oz now has a new take on your mom's advice. He tells you to eat your frozen veggies. Dr. Oz says you don't even have to spend a fortune to eat healthy if you know what to buy. He says that frozen and canned foods can be just as nutritious as more expensive fresh foods. And he writes about it in the latest issue of "Time" magazine. The cover story, "What to Eat Now: The Anti-food Snob Diet." And, of course, he is the Emmy winning host of the "Dr. Oz Show," vice chairman and professor of surgery at Columbia University, best selling author. Dr. Oz, joining us from New York.

Hi, doctor, good to see you. I think I'm guilty. I think I'm one of those food snobs. What's wrong? What's wrong with being a food snob?

DR. MEHMET OZ, HOST, "THE DR. OZ SHOW": Well, I'm surrounded by food snobs. And there's nothing wrong if you can afford it. But I've got say, we talk about food a lot on my show and over and over again people mistakenly believe that you can't afford to eat well in America because it's too expensive. So we thought we would take the opportunity to do the 99 percent diet, also called the anti-snob diet. And what can the average person, who's thinking they can feed their family well, do if they don't think they can afford it. And I'm here to prove that you can change that.

I'll give you one example.

MALVEAUX: Sure. OZ: I brought with me some frozen peas. Now, if you look at that cover of "Time" magazine, those are actually all frozen foods on the top.


OZ: Now, why frozen peas? It turns out that frozen foods -- the technology is about 100 years old. You flash freeze the vegetables and the fruits. Now why is that important? If you harvest fruits and vegetables when they're ripe, they have all the nutrients in them. They've harvested it from the sun. You flash freeze them, you preserve those nutrients. So you get to get, you know, get 85 to 90 percent of them. We eat (ph) them. And this is a big part of this, Suzanne, many folks have wasteage. Moms know they throw away a lot of the fresh produce they buy. But if it's frozen, you never throw it away. So you save money when you buy it, you save money by not wasting it.

MALVEAUX: So is it really possible -- is it possible that you could get frozen veggies or veggies in a can and it's just as healthy, just as good as fresh, or would you always just go for the fresh stuff?

OZ: If you have the money, of course, go out and buy the organic food, buy the fresh veggies. But for a lot of folks, it's a big issue. And it hurts me when I know people want to do the right thing but they don't think they can afford it. The difference between a frozen box of peas and fresh peas from the farmer's market is about 10 percent of nutrient value. It's trivial. That's not why we're losing the battle for health in America.

So go ahead and buy the frozen products. They're the best buys out there. Get the canned products. Canned salmon. Think about this. You know, it has almost everything that fresh salmon, off the line was just caught and handed to you. Almost every nutrient the same in a canned salmon serving, but the price is a tiny fraction. So that's another easy place you can make a choice. Now, of course, when you buy a canned product, make sure the salt content is reasonable. But why spend more when you don't have to.

MALVEAUX: Yes. And people -- everybody's got canned goods in their -- you know, in the pantry.

Talk a little bit about, should you eat meat? Should you not eat meat? I know you're surrounded -- I think outnumbered, right, by vegetarians in your own house?

OZ: You're absolutely right. My wife has been a vegetarian since she was 13. So she can't eat the food. She makes it. But we have meat in our household. Three servings a week is what I generally would say to folks you can have. But, listen, the big issue here is, what's a serving size. I brought my playing cards today. I'm not playing poker, but I did want to emphasize that this is actually a serving size of meat. So that's what you want to get. About the size of your palm. And so if you realize that's a serving size and you get three servings a week, then I don't get married (ph) to fighting against meat (ph). In fact, that serving size is probably healthy for you to have because it's got the right nutrients in it. Then you want lean meat. You don't want, you know, patties of stuff that was processed and you don't know what's in it.

MALVEAUX: And tell us a little bit about something -- you say some foods get a bad rap. Guacamole, salsa, some of this stuff that people think is really bad for you but it's not as bad as you think.

OZ: Well, across the board, the biggest mistake we make is we don't buy real foods. I'm going to talk about guacamole and salsa in a minute. And we process it the wrong way. So if you take chicken and you fry it, I don't care what kind of chicken it is, you just messed it up. Fried foods generally are fried to make foods that don't taste good taste better. And so stay away from that kind of mistake.

With regard to American favorites, some of those ordinary foods are fantastically healthful. You mentioned guacamole. It's got a ton of omega 3 fats. Salsa's got lycopene from the tomatoes. Peanut butter. Think about this. Peanut butter, a very ordinary food, has as many unsaturated fats as olive oil does. So what a great opportunity for you. You can store that on the shelf. And buy what you got as a kid. Don't have anything added to it. No extra sugar, no processed materials added to it. The one catch with most of these foods is what you put them on. So instead of fried pieces of wheat, instead buy baked pita chips. It tastes good, it's affordable and it's good for you.

MALVEAUX: All right. Well, I had guacamole just last night. I loved it. And now I know it's good for me too. And you say you can have a little bit of ice cream now and then as well?

OZ: Of course. We're talking about, you know, a half an ounce of ice cream. We're not talking about a ton of food here. But ice cream. Listen, sugar that bonds you together, a dessert that's sacred that the family rejoices over, it's worth the penalty. The mistake a lot of folks make is they don't buy ice cream with real ingredients in it. They don't buy real chocolate. Remember, milk chocolate is not really chocolate. It's milk fats with a little bit of, you know, coloring. It's not the real stuff. So, 65 percent cocoa. And the real thing will get you where you need to be with you can celebrate with your family.

MALVEAUX: Yes, our guilty pleasures. Dr. Oz, thank you so much. Especially for the holidays, too. Might have a little bit of that ice cream. Thanks again.

OZ: Take care.

MALVEAUX: Fiscal cliff, no laughing matter. So why does this person start to giggle?



BABY: (laughing).


BABY: (laughing). UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You think that's funny? Fiscal cliff.

BABY: (laughing).




MALVEAUX: In just 34 days, your taxes could go up if Congress and the White House don't agree on a budget and avoid falling off the so- called fiscal cliff. It's a serious issue. Not to everybody, though. One of our i-Reporters said the word "fiscal cliff" to their baby. Got an interesting reaction. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mason, fiscal cliffs.

BABY: (laughing).


BABY: (laughing).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You think that's funny? Fiscal cliff.

BABY: (laughing).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Debt ceiling. Tax cuts. Fiscal cliffs.

BABY: (laughing).


MALVEAUX: That's five-month-old Mason Jackson (ph). The words fiscal cliff producing a different response, obviously, on The Hill. Republicans, Democrats, the White House, not seeing eye to eye on the proposed tax hikes and spending cuts. Now the president is taking his case to the American people. Dan Lothian, he is joining us from the White House.

Yes, Dan, I guess -- I guess you could make a baby laugh, huh, over fiscal cliff. I don't know.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You lead into me with a baby. How can I beat that, huh?

MALVEAUX: What is the president -- how is he handling all this? Clearly he's not -- he's probably not doing as much laughing.

LOTHIAN: Well, he isn't. I mean what you saw today was the president bringing in Americans here who he says will be impacted if those middle class tax cuts are not extending. The president trying to send a message out there to Republicans that they need to come on board and support this effort. Republicans, of course, pushing back. They don't think that those upper income Americans should see their taxes go up.

So what the message from the president today was to the folks who were here and to others who were watching is, to put pressure on their lawmakers to support extending the Bush era tax cuts just for middle class Americans. And it's not just through this effort, but the president saying to text, to call, to send a fax, to use even Twitter and the White House coming up with this #my2k, referring to the amount of money that each of the middle class families, an average middle class family, would see their taxes go up by, the White House says, $2,200.

So the pressure coming not only through social media, but also the president inviting here to the White House yesterday we saw small business owners, today big CEOs. On Friday, the president will hit the road in Pennsylvania again pushing this theme, that extend the Bush era tax cuts but not for upper income Americans.


MALVEAUX: All right. We'll see how that goes over. Dan, thanks. Good to see you, as always.

House Republicans, they're kicking off their own PR campaign to convince Americans that higher taxes on the rich are not the answer to the fiscal cliff. House Speaker John Boehner's office says GOP lawmakers, they're planning to hold several events with small business owners. In those meetings, they're going to hammer home their argument that tax rate hikes will hurt the economy and lead to the loss of jobs.

Now, the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot, 175 million to one. The prize, more than half a billion dollars. But you've got to be in it to win it.