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President Obama Speaks in Michigan, Pushes Fiscal Plan; Mexican-American Icon Killed In Crash; Spending Cuts Coming; Harsh Cancer Treatment May Offer Cure

Aired December 10, 2012 - 14:30   ET

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


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Bottom of the hour here. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being with me.

You see the crowds. You see the president. Just a quick set-up. He's speaking at an engine plant. This is in Redford, Michigan, not too far from Detroit. Take a listen.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So but it -- so in addition to seeing the best workers in the world, you've got -- you've also got all this cool equipment. I wanted to try out some of the equipment, but Secret Service wouldn't let me. They said you're going to drop something on your head, hurt yourself. They were worried I'd mess something up. And I -- Jeff (ph) and Gibby (ph) may not admit it, but I think they were pretty happy that Secret Service wouldn't let me touch the equipment.

Now, it's been a little over a month since the election came to an end. So it's now safe for you to turn your televisions back on. All those scary political ads are off the air. You can answer your phone again. Nobody's calling you in the middle of dinner asking for your support.

But I have to -- look, I have to admit, there is one part of the campaign that I miss. And that is it is a great excuse for me to get out of Washington, and come to towns like this, and talk to the people who work so hard every day and are looking out for their families and are in their communities.

And just having a conversation about what kind of country do we want to be? What kind of country do we want to leave behind for our kids? Ultimately, that's what this is about. And I believe and I've been saying this not just for the last six months or the last year, but ever since I got into public office, I believe America only succeeds and thrives when we got a strong and growing middle class.

That's what I believe. I believe we're at our best when everybody who works hard has a chance to get ahead. That they can get a job that pays the bills. That they got health care they can count on. That they can retire with dignity and respect. Maybe take a vacation once and a while, nothing fancy.

You know, just -- just being able to pack up the kids and go some place and enjoy time with people that you love. Make sure that your kids can go to a good school. Make sure they can aspire to be whatever they want to be. That idea is what built America. That's the idea that built Michigan.

That's the idea that is at the heart of the economic plan I've been talking about all year long on the campaign trail. I want to give more Americans the chance to earn the skills, the businesses they're looking for right now. And give our kids the kind of education they need to succeed in the 21st Century.

I want to make sure America leads the world in research and technology, and clean energy. I want to put people back to work, rebuilding our roads and our bridges and our schools. That's how we grow an economy. I want us to bring down our deficits, but I want to do it in a balanced, responsible way.

And I want to reward -- I want -- businesses and manufacturers like Detroit diesel, right here, creating jobs, right here, in Redford, right here in Michigan, right here in the United States of America. That's where we need to go. That's the country we need to build.

And when it comes to bringing up manufacturing back to America, that's why I'm here today. Since 1938, Detroit diesel has been turning out some of the best engines in the world. Over all those years, generations of Redford workers have walked through these doors.

Not just to punch a clock, not just to pick up a paycheck, not just to build an engine, but to build a middle class life for their families, to earn a shot at the American dream.

For seven and a half decades, through good times and bad, through revolutions and technology that sent a lot of good jobs, manufacturing jobs overseas, men and women like you, your parents, maybe even your grandparents, have done your part to build up America's manufacturing strength.

That's something you can all be proud of. And now you're writing a new proud chapter to that history. Eight years ago you started building axels here alongside the engines. That meant more work. That meant more jobs.

So you start seeing products, more products stamped with those three proud words, made in America. Today Daimler is announcing a new $120 million investment into this plant creating 115 good new union jobs, building transmissions and turbo charges, right here in Redford.

A 115 good new jobs right here in this plant, making things happen. That's great for the plant. It is great for the community. But it is also good for American manufacturing. Soon you guys will be building all the key parts that go into powering a heavy duty truck all at the same facility.

Nobody else in America is doing that. Nobody else in North America is doing that. And by putting everything together in one place, under one roof, Daimler Engineers can design each part so it works better with the others.

That means greater fuel efficiency for your trucks. It means greater savings for your customers. That's a big deal. And it is just the latest example of Daimler's leadership on this issue.

Last year, I was proud to have your support when we announced the first ever national fuel efficiency standards for commercial trucks, which is going to help save consumers money and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: You've been listening to the president here speaking, flanked by middle class Americans. He just mentioned 115 good new union jobs, specifically there. He's at this engine plant, Detroit -- Daimler Diesel plant here that the engine plant.

All part of this new investment that is just put out today, the backdrop of his visit, this $120 million to create new jobs and expand U.S. production, have not yet heard, we'll keep listening, if the president will make mention of what is happening not too far away in Lansing, Michigan, with regard to many union workers here, this fight.

This fight here about right to work legislation and it sounds like the governor really is poised to sign this, if and when that happens tomorrow. So we'll take you to Lansing. We will take you back here to listen to the president. We'll keep a close ear on that.

But we want to get to this other story. This is making ripples through the America and beyond. The death of a pop star, what happened on board Jenni Rivera's plane just before it crashed and who was she? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Look at the big board, the Dow, it is up just a little bit here at 13 points. Investors fairly flat here at the beginning of the workweek as we await the fiscal cliff, 22 days away.

Again, the president meeting face to face with Speaker Boehner yesterday and talking to our chief White House correspondent basically the status of those discussions is sitting at a stalemate. Back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: The music industry along with millions of fans, are mourning the loss of a powerful female voice. Mexican star Jenni Rivera was killed when her plane crashed in the mountains of Northern Mexico, early Sunday.

The impact was so severe, that pieces of the plane were found scattered across this wide area. At least five others were on board. Some, her closest colleagues, were also killed.

Rivera had just finished performing in Monterey, Mexico, telling reporters just hours before she died that she was happy with her life.

Beyond her 15 million records sold, she was a powerful economic force. She talked about her career with CNN Espanol in 2010.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JENNI RIVERA (through translator): It is very flattering when they tell me I'm a great artist, a great entertainer, that when I'm on stage, I can entertain the audience. That I can go into the recording studio and come up with a great production, but before all that I was a business woman. I'm primarily business minded.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Speaking of those businesses, she started several reality shows. She was a judge on the popular TV show called "The Voice Mexico." And just in October, people in Espanol named Rivera one of the 25 most powerful women. Her brother spoke about her legacy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PEDRO RIVERA, JENNI RIVERA'S BROTHER: Even though we can accept it, we don't want to accept it. Death is going to come to all of us. It might come in an accident, but it never comes accidentally. God has everything in his hands and it is hard to accept. It is painful.

We cry because we're going to miss -- I'm going to miss my sister. We're all going to miss our sister. But it is going to come and the support from the fans that loved her, I mean, just the hugs, their tears, it's consoling to us.

And it is really beautiful, you know, to have all these fans coming and just saying, you know, they're with you and they made our family and we have to give them the respect also for making us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Family and fans gathering outside the Rivera family home. This is Lakewood, California, tweets from celebrities and fans expressing their condolences.

CNN's en Espanol's Alejandra Oraa joins me. Gosh, people are reeling. People are reeling over this. And just talking to people who weren't as familiar with her, we know she was a businesswoman, she seemed like a pretty tough woman and a mother and a grandmother. Who was she?

ALEJANDRA ORAA, CNN EN ESPANOL: She personified, Brooke, the American dream to the Latino community and especially to Mexican women because she showed that even if you had hard beginnings like she did and her family did, even if you had a humble life because she did not come from money, you were able to become powerful, like she did in this country.

She was a mother in high school before she was 17 years old. Her mother crossed the border while she was pregnant with Jenni. When she was born in Long Beach, California, she had no money whatsoever.

She worked on the streets selling CDs, selling flowers. None of this was an obstacle for her to become a successful entrepreneur. She was also -- something that's very important to talk about her style of music, the first female Banda singer that was a style of music at the time that was mostly dominated by male. BALDWIN: What is it Banda -- all of these, it is all men.

ORAA: It's all men. She was the first female voice to express what women were thinking at time. When you were listening to male songs, they were about women, about drinking or about -- at the time, Banda music is more about drug trafficking chronicles.

But she was talking about domestic violence, she was talking about being poor, being a single mother. She was talking about how hard it is to be a Hispanic woman in this country.

BALDWIN: She brought many women strength and hopefully she will continue to. I guess, just finally in 20 seconds, she has five children?

ORAA: Yes.

BALDWIN: What will the community miss most about her?

ORAA: I think it is going to be her ability to drive people together. Anything that Jenni would say on television would make the community gather. If she would say, I want you to fight for this cause, to end domestic violence, they would do it.

BALDWIN: Alejandra Oraa, thank you so much. Come back anytime.

ORAA: My pleasure. Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: I want to return now to the budget talks in Washington. As you know, the focus right now is on who will pay what, tax rate, come the first of the year.

We have to keep in mind that if there is no deal, we're looking at automatic cuts to government spending programs going to be tough calls because we're talking about items just to pick one at random for you today as crucial as the safety of America's food supply. Here is CNN's Emily Schmidt.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

EMILY SCHMIDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Preparing for holidays at Paul and Tressa Bennett's house is a reminder of something else around the corner, a fiscal cliff deadline that is personal here.

TRESSA BENNETT, MOTHER: I just can't imagine funding being cut at this point. It would be tragic.

SCHMIDT: Tressa is worried budget cuts would hurt food safety inspection. That's mattered to her since her twins her born in 1999. She and her babies got Listeria poisoning from meat she ate while pregnant. The Centers for Disease Control says contaminated food sickens about 48 million a year, 3,000 people die. So the FDA and USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service are charged with protecting the food supply.

An 8.2 percent budget cut translates to a combined $157 million. There's no word exactly what cuts would mean to inspector staffing.

CHRIS WALDROP, CONSUMER FEDERATION OF AMERICA: Both FDA and USDA are already stretched pretty thin when it comes to the inspection activities and the food safety work they do. They really need increased resources and not fewer resources.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Agencies always say they're stretched.

SCHMIDT: Dean Clancy is with "FreedomWorks," an organization that promotes smaller government and he says the cuts leave nothing to fear.

DEAN CLANCY, FREEDOMWORKS: Arguing that getting spending under control endangers public health and safety is a really irresponsible scare tactic especially when you realize that these aren't real cuts. These are reductions from anticipated increases in spending.

WALDROP: Cut the budget for the work these agencies do, it's going to significantly impact them today, tomorrow.

BENNETT: You made that one, didn't you?

SCHMIDT: Tressa Bennett and her kids are now healthy and food safety advocates.

BENNETT: Remember, we all have to eat.

SCHMIDT: And they say nobody should have to fear what they eat.

(on camera): A company that tracks food recalls says there were 414 last quarter, the highest level in at least two years. Most of the recalls came from worries about food borne illness. Emily Schmidt, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: Coming up next hour, a big guest, we'll speak live with Senator Olympia Snowe, a Republican who is saying she would vote for a tax hike on the wealthy. Don't miss that.

Also listen to this, very, very carefully here. Doctors use a disabled form of the virus that causes AIDS to save the life of a child. This is amazing. More on how this was done, whether this is a cure for leukemia next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: This Pennsylvania girl named Emily Whitehead just turned 7, a feat that not only has her family overjoyed, but doctors extremely hopeful for other cancer patients. You see, Emily was dying from this rare and aggressive leukemia that defying all treatment.

So her parents really with no other choice, they put her in this trial program. Doctors used Emily's own immune cells and reengineered them to fight the cancer. This is the thing. This cancer treatment is so brutal, it made her so, so sick before possibly curing her.

Want you to hear what her father told CBS about their family's darkest hour.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM WHITEHEAD, EMILY'S FATHER: She is as sick as you can get. You know, they said you should call your family in. There is a good chance she won't be here in the morning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Now look at Emily. Doctors at the Children Hospital of Philadelphia say they detect no cancer in her, even after eight months. Let me bring in senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen who I was telling during the commercial break, I read this yesterday and it blew my mind.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It really is because these are patients, 12 patients like Emily, who had tried either everything or nearly everything. They had done the chemo. They had done what they were supposed to do for their leukemia or lymphoma. Nine out of 12 saw some form of response.

BALDWIN: And this is a form of the AIDS virus.

COHEN: Yes.

BALDWIN: Explain that.

COHEN: Someone said to me, is this another form of chemo, no, something totally different. So what they do is that they use a form of the AIDS virus, obviously you change so it doesn't give you AIDS, and you change it and do the therapy, so that it actually affects the genes of your t-cells.

Your t-cells are your attack cells in your immune system. It reprograms the t-cells to attack cancer cells and the t-cells, which up until now haven't been working very well go, though, I know what to do now.

And they actually attack the cancer cells, didn't work for everybody. Nine out of 12 had a response. She's been in remission for eight months on the other end of the scale, someone in remission for two and a half years.

BALDWIN: So, of course, we all know someone touched by cancer. And in a minute, here, is this the kind of thing that anyone can think, OK, well, maybe my mother could try this or my son could try this?

COHEN: No, there is two issues. They're really in the baby stages of this and no one is talking about this as a cure at all even in that ballpark. So we're talking about just for leukemia and lymphoma at the moment.

As you heard her father say, it can make you really sick, very, very sick. You're taking a risk, the only people who they'll do this on right now is people who really tried pretty much everything else.

So this isn't something, you know, gee, mom was just diagnosed with breast cancer, let's do this, no way, no how. This is end of the road therapy and still in the very beginning stages.

BALDWIN: Here's hoping that it grows out of those stages and develops.

COHEN: It is a great proof of principle. That's what is exciting about it.

BALDWIN: Elizabeth Cohen, thank you very much.

Coming up here, boys disappear from this reform school. Never are heard from again. Well, today, new evidence could suggest the answers lie in one cemetery.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)