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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Cornyn Threatens Partial Government Shutdown; Schumer: GOP Is "Playing With Fire"; Congress Approves $9.7B In Sandy Aid; The Coming Storms; Al Gore's Big Payday; Al Jazeera Buys Current TV

Aired January 4, 2013 - 19:00   ET

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


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, a top Republican threatens to shut down the government if President Obama won't negotiate on the debt ceiling.

Plus, after President Obama one of our guests says the next president of the United States will be black. Does it add up?

And why one politician accused of a crime was strip and beaten. We'll show it to you. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good Friday evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, on the brink of battle, a threat today from a top Republican to shut down the government if President Obama refuses to tell negotiate over the debt ceiling.

The second most powerful Republican in the Senate, Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas wrote in an op-ed today, President Obama needs to take note of it and put forward a plan to avoid it immediately. Will those threats work?

A senior Democrat says if the Republicans don't want to raise the debt ceiling, it will be on their shoulders.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Risking government shutdown, risking not raising the debt ceiling is playing with fire.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Playing with fire. Doug Holtz-Eakin is the former director of the Congressional Budget Office and Robert Reich is a former Labor Secretary and author of a book that explains how we all feel these days, beyond outrage what has gone wrong with our economy, our democracy and how to fix it.

I hope you have solutions to solve the crisis we all fear. Robert, let's me start with you. In John Cornyn's scenario where we shutdown the government, how dire of outcome is that?

ROBERT REICH, PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC POLICY, U.C. BERKELEY: Well, it's terrible outcome, Erin because it's not just shutting the government. It's actually saying to the creditors of the United States we're not going to deliver on the full faith and credit of the United States. We are going to default on our debt. Republicans played this card once before, remember, in December of 2011. It was very dangerous then. Our debt was downgraded. It is very dangerous now.

BURNETT: Right. And, of course, the problem is, Doug, I know you're probably more sympathetic in the Republican side, but the reality of it is the money that the debt ceiling is being raised to pay is money that's already been borrowed and promised. I mean, it is the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.

DOUGLAS HOLTZ-EAKIN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN ACTION FORUM: Yes. I think that's right. Let's put the rhetoric aside and recognize that there is no fight about raising the debt ceiling. That's not in question.

There isn't even really a fight about the need to control spending. Anyone's who's in touch with the debt and budgetary dynamics knows that we have to control spending in particular the entitlement programs. That it would be a disservice not to fix those programs and have them fall apart underneath their beneficiaries.

The only real fight is about the best approach to those changes. That is a disagreement. It's a legitimate one. It seems to me that the best thing that could happen is to get ahead of that and start working on those disagreements and that can happen one of two ways.

The president could put forward some sort of proposals and not wait until the 11th hour and do what we did before or it could go through regular order in the Senate where -- or the House and the Senate, let the House pass something, have the Senate pick it up, go to the conference, but let's start working on this problem.

BURNETT: Let me ask you. Newt Gingrich obviously knows a lot about this and a lot about government shutdown. He warned fellow Republicans today, all right, you guys may want to get the spending cuts, but if you're going to use the debt ceiling and hold people hostage because you know you have to increase that, to get those spending cuts, he says that is a, quote/unquote, "dead loser." Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: In the end, you know, it's going to happen. The whole national financial system is going to come into Washington by television and say, my God, this would be a gigantic heart attack, the entire economy of the world will collapse and you guys can't be responsible and they'll cave.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: So are Republicans making a strategic mistake here, Doug, to even use the debt ceiling as leverage since we all know they will end up having to raise it.

EAKIN: They will have to raise it. The president is going to have to raise it and the debt ceiling as a result is not the problem. The problem is the debt and the spending that's driving the debt.

So the number one thing is to avoid, A, the notion that Speaker Boehner can trot down to the White House and somehow we can solve the nation's problems or, B, that we want do this at the 11th hour at all.

Instead we want our Congress and our president to do their job. I for one believed that in moments like this presidential leadership is an imperative. But the president doesn't want to put a plan out. He's shown no appetite for taking on the problem then the House should pass something and the Senate needs to act.

BURNETT: Robert Reich, should the president be the one that comes out with a plan and say, look, I'm so sick of this petty, stupid, sandbox unpleasantness rather than the word I would prefer to use there. I'm sick of it and I'm going to put out, here's my plan.

REICH: Yes. Erin, the president has put out a plan. He put out a plan in 2011. He put out another plan in 2012. He has come up with spending cuts, proposed spending cuts in the military. He's even come up with some very controversial proposals for entitlement reform.

The Republicans have come up with their own ideas. There is a disagreement about those ideas. The problem right now is what is the weapon of choice with regard to getting your ideas in place?

And I agree with Doug. We should be playing with the debt ceiling, but that is in fact what the Republicans are planning. I think it's just irresponsible. I never agree with Newt Gingrich on anything, but I'm going to agree with him tonight on this.

BURNETT: I just don't understand what leverage is going to be enough, right, a deadline, a fiscal cliff, a super committee? I mean, nothing. These guys don't seem to care what deadline you put in front of them or what leverage. They still won't do it.

EAKIN: I mean, for the record it shouldn't require leverage. They should, in fact, do this because it's a problem for our nation. You know, with all due respect to Bob, the president's proposals are to cut $365 billion out of entitlements over 10 years.

And we're borrowing over $100 billion a month. They aren't in the ball park of what we need. You know, we've seen the House pass their ideas. It's happened. The Senate doesn't have to like them, but they should take them up and provide some alternatives.

That's never happened. So we do have to change the way we do business and we do have to get proposals that are in the ballpark and the size of the problem.

BURNETT: All right, thanks so much to both of you. We appreciate it.

EAKIN: Thank you.

BURNETT: Still to come, one of our guests says the next president of the United States. The next one will be black. Does it add up?

Plus, a Sandy relief package, a little one finally passed today by the House and the Senate. But a New Jersey congressman says it is too little and too late.

And a popular Hollywood actor says he took on Starbucks and won. McDreamy, otherwise known as Patrick Dempsey comes OUTFRONT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Our second story, OUTFRONT, too little, too late. That's how New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone is describing the $9.7 billion Sandy relief package that actually today did pass the House and then later on the Senate.

Pallone and other lawmakers in New York and New Jersey want $60 billion. Now, House Speaker John Boehner says there's going to be a vote on the remaining $51 billion. He says it's going to happen on January 15th, but that's not good enough for Representative Pallone. He's OUTFRONT tonight.

So let me -- let me just start off with the bill that happened today, which was really to deal with the flood insurance, the $9.7 billion deposit, 67 people voted no for it including Paul Ryan. He said Washington shouldn't be creating new debt.

And he said that, it would be, I'll quote him, "It would irresponsible to raise an insolvent program's debt ceiling without making necessary reforms. Debt ceiling may be an ominous sign of the future. What's your response to that though? The National Flood Insurance program is in crisis.

REPRESENTATIVE FRANK PALLONE (D), NEW JERSEY: The point is people paid their premiums and now they suffered and have damage and now Paul Ryan and others are saying they shouldn't -- the claims shouldn't be paid. I mean it's ridiculous. If you paid for any kind of insurance and you found out they weren't going to pay the claim, what would you think? I mean, that's essentially what they're saying.

BURNETT: All right, so in terms of the vote today and what's going to happens next, Charlie Rangel, a member of your party was celebrating. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPRESENTATIVE CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: I think it's been a good day for the Congress and for the country. It reinforces the concept we've had since the beginning of this nation that if any part of our country is affected by a disaster, that they can and should expect the rest of the country to come to the rescue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Congressman Pallone, he said the Sandy aid bill got messed up because of communications and there are going to be no problems. It's going to move ahead and everything is fine. PALLONE: I'm very concerned. I mean, as you know, Speaker Boehner made a commitment at the end of the last Congress that this whole package was going to come up. And if it had come up, we would have the votes and it would be on the president's desk.

And we'd be rebuilding the shore again. Now we have to wait another two or three weeks. We don't know exactly what's happening and the speaker has divided this up into essentially three different votes.

So we have to get a majority each time and then we have to go back to the Senate where the bill had already passed before in the larger package.

BURNETT: So you're worried that it will not be as easy as.

PALLONE: No, I don't think so. Remember, what happened today is the easiest thing. I mean, essentially what they did today was just extend the borrowing authority like the debt ceiling if you will for the flood insurance program.

Very few people are opposed to that because the people have already paid their premiums and they should collect. But now we're talking about the actual money that would be used to rebuild the shore.

And I'm very concerned about that, and I don't think it should have been divided up. And, you know, you have basically these Tea Party Republicans who don't want to spend any money.

BURNETT: So why, though, do you need the $51 billion? FEMA, right, has given $1.2 billion about in assistance after Sandy, half a billion of that in New Jersey. House Appropriations Chairman Howe Rogers says FEMA has plenty of money. There is no immediate means. You know, FEMA is saying, look, we're OK.

PALLONE: That money, Erin, is just for the emergency. In other words, that was to help people pay for a motel, you know, for food and clothing in the few weeks after the storm. The rest of the money, the $60 billion package is for rebuilding.

In other words, this is -- you know, this will give the SVA money to give out loans to businesses. This will give community development so people can make grants to rebuild their homes. This will get -- this will be money for the Army Corps to put the beach restoration and a dune to protect the shore from the future.

BURNETT: Right, what about the rebuilding of homes? This is the bigger question as we have more storm events coming around the country. Should we be giving money to people to rebuild in areas that are flood zones? If you as a homeowner cannot afford and take on the full risk yourself of what happens if there's a storm. Should taxpayers ever be on the hook for that?

PALLONE: Well, again, a big part of this is to rebuild in a way that's more protective. For example, if I can use Sea Bright, New Jersey, which is in my district. The business district was destroyed. So they have a plan to basically rebuild the business district, you know, on pilings.

So if the storm comes again, it won't be negatively impacted the way it was this time. So there's a lot in there that's actually very future-oriented in trying to rebuild in a way that will be protective for the future.

BURNETT: All right, well, Congressman Pallone, thank you very much for taking the time. We're going to be watching for that Sandy vote and when it happens and if it happens, of course, on January 15th.

As I said, more super storms are coming to the United States. Sandy was the biggest hurricane and there will be bigger and bigger ones coming. Which is why it's even more frightening that we almost didn't know about Sandy's power until it was too late.

A new documentary from CNN called the "Coming Storms" shows exactly what actually happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST (voice-over): Just a month before Sandy, one of those key goes satellites that monitors the Atlantic and Caribbean where Sandy was born went down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was enough uncertainty while we're still in hurricane season that we took the precaution to move the other satellite over.

MYERS: Perhaps, some experts say, a foreshadowing. Dr. Kevin Tremberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research says NOAA got lucky. They had a backup satellite standing by.

KEVIN TREMBERTH, THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR ATMOSPHERIC RESEARCH: If there's a major failure of the satellites that would be a major disaster indeed. We would be blinded in many respects. We would not be able to see what's going on in the system as well as we can now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: It's pretty amazing. There's some serious questions raised by "CNN Presents," which explores this Sunday at 8 p.m., "The Coming Storms." Our own Chad Myers is OUTFRONT tonight.

Really looking forward to the show just because it shows how things might be and what we really don't know. Chad, what would have happened if researchers didn't have data from that satellite? When you look at Sandy on a mass scale the biggest storm we've ever seen.

MYERS: You have to understand when we talk about a forecast over the United States. We have all these weather balloons go up so we know where and how the wind is going, how fast, what direction. There are no balloons going up over the Atlantic Ocean. That satellite is our only eye to what the winds are doing, how the storm is progressing. And we have now, the weather service NOAA has run, rerun the computer models without the satellite, without the polar orbiting satellite data in and just 24 hours out, that forecast was still for it to miss the U.S.

Could you imagine with 23 hours' notice, we have to yell at everybody there in New England and New York and New Jersey, get out, get out, get out, here it comes because we didn't think it was coming but now it is, that's how important those satellites are.

BURNETT: And is this the risk that we're now facing in the future when you look at Superstorm Sandy? Everyone says this is once in a century event or is it? Are we going to start seeing a lot more storms like that, storms that we don't know are coming, we don't how big they are?

MYERS: Here's the issue. We get once a century flood like every five years now. It's tremendous what our threshold of pain used to be. What we used to think of a 500-year this or 1,000-year this coming true much more often. Humans are getting in the way.

No question we're building cities along the coast, but we're also paving a lot of the United States so the water can't soak in. It runs off making bigger floods. So the problem with it now is there's so much more carbon dioxide in the air.

It's proven that there's more CO2 parts per million than ever before this year. That CO2 hold in heat. That's proven. I don't care how you think it got there. It doesn't matter. It's there and it's going to warm the earth. It's going to warm the ocean.

Hurricane Sandy when it was a hurricane in the ocean was on top of water that was 2 degrees warmer than it should have been. So Hurricane Sandy was a bigger storm than it should have been because it was basically Halloween.

The storm should not have been blowing up like it did, but the water was still warm and when that happens the potential is always there for it to get bigger.

BURNETT: All right, well, thank you very much, Chad Myers.

MYERS: You're welcome.

BURNETT: You can catch "CNN Presents: The Coming Storms" Sunday night right here, 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific.

Now the real story of Al Gore's big payday. Al Gore, he's rolling in it. He wouldn't have been if he was president. See life sometimes you think it's a lemon and it's really lemonade. A reporter get the biggest media scope tells the story.

And later, the boyfriend of the Indian woman who was brutally beaten and rape and murdered speaks out for the first time.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Now our third story, OUTFRONT, Al Gore's massive payday. So the former VP has sold a company called Current TV to the Arabic News Network, Al Jazeera, and the price tag, half a million dollars, $500 million.

According to "The New York Times," the deal will give Al Gore who owns 20 percent of Current TV, Al Gore personally. You can do the math, $100 million payout. Now Gore co-founded the company in 2005 with entrepreneur, Joe Hyatt. It has struggled with viewership.

Brian Stelter is a media reporter for the "New York Times." He's got the inside story tonight. There are so many parts of this that I find amazing, ironic, fascinating, but obviously the deal has drawn some criticism.

Let's start first with the fact that Al Gore, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, former vice president, known as an environmental guy, sold this company to Al Jazeera, which is, of course, owned by the government of Qatar.

A government which was built on oil, also that's the green problem and also a country that has been shown to have links to funding hard line Islamists in Syria and al Qaeda. Why would he do such a deal?

BRIAN STELTER, MEDIA REPORTER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": And of course, Al Jazeera, you know, in some minds of some people still known best for being a conduit for messages from Osama Bin Laden many years ago.

I think he did the deal because it was the best option he had. He wanted to sell this channel, he wanted to get it off his hands after nearly eight years of getting almost nowhere with it. In some cases it's declined over time.

That never happens in TV. But we saw him several months ago come out and say, I want to sell it, I'm not sure to who and by the end of the day, he saw this was his only option. It's pretty clear that Al Jazeera overpaid because for them it was worth it.

BURNETT: Right. Let's talk about whether they overpaid because they wanted to get access into the U.S. market. They've tried before so Current is in 40 million homes and they are paying for those homes.

The minute the deal is announced, Time Warner Cable says we're not going to air Current anymore. So they lose some homes and obviously that's what the price tag was based on. So what's going to happen here? I mean, is this going to be a colossal failure?

STELTER: It's going require more than $500 million over time. They do have now these homes to start with and homes like Direct TV, Comcast. They've got a decent amount of the country, but not nearly all of it.

Now they're going to other distributors to try to get better carriage for Al Jazeera and I think they are going to have to spend a lot of money on marketing and promotion and talent for the channel because if they want to compete with the likes of CNN and the BBC and other international news brands in America, they're going to have to invest a lot more money.

BURNETT: All right, so first there's the irony of the oil well and the government that also funds other things and the third, Al Gore, big Democrat, wants to get this deal done on December 31st and there's a reason for that, right?

STELTER: New Year's Eve because the tax rates were lower. The tax rates went up on New Year's Day. They were desperate to get the deal done by New Year's Eve. In fact, they even told the distributors whose arms they were twisting that they wanted to get it done by then.

Unfortunately, for Al Gore they didn't. They got done on Wednesday instead. It's unclear how much he had to pay in taxes, but we're talking a significant chunk of change.

BURNETT: Yes, I was just like kind of ball parking numbers, but it could be somewhere $8 million, $9 million. It's a lot. I guess, funny how it is, Al Gore, right? He wants to avoid the taxes, but why did it happen? If he wanted it done that badly on that day and it was done the day after? Was there some sort of a hiccup or some sort of problem?

STELTER: They haven't let us in. They haven't let us figure it out and unfortunately these guys aren't giving interviews. I've been kind of surprised by the lack of access we've had into these companies to figure out what's going on.

Maybe that's because it leaked out before they were ready to talk about it, maybe that's because they haven't decided what to do with the Current staff members. You there are hundreds of staff members who were probably going to be laid off from this channel.

And hosts like Eliot Spitzer, Jennifer Granholm, Joy Behar, not sure what's going to happen to them, maybe we'll find out next week when they staff meetings, but it's a very strange way to see this channel sort of sputter off after so many years.

BURNETT: Well, there's one thing I know. Al Gore is a richer man.

STELTER: He is.

BURNETT: Thanks very much, Brian Stelter. Still to come, will our next president, not this one, the next one, I'm not making a mistake here, be black. One of our guests says yes, but does it add up.

Plus the Navy takes on bath salts with a disturbing new public service announcement.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT on a Friday night. We'll start with stories where we're focusing our reporting from the front lines and we'll begin with something we are hearing from Washington.

Former Senator Chuck Hagel will likely be President Obama's nominee for defense secretary. Sources tell us the White House has told some members of Congress to expect the president to nominate Hagel.

But the nominee should come in as early next week, but the White House had recently said no final decisions had been made. The Hagel nomination has been perceived as controversial by some given the former senator's comment that his made in the past relating to gays.

Thousands of Sunni demonstrators have taken to the streets of Iraq to protest the country's prime minister. They're calling for the release of prisoners they say were detained because they're Sunni.

They say that Shiite authorities in their communities are abusing their power (inaudible) tells us Prime Minister Nori Almalaki has had a long standing policy of using strong armed tactics to marginalize opponents particularly Sunnis and finally that solicited a backlash.

Well, the New England Compounding Center, that's the company linked to the deadly outbreak of fungal meningitis has pinned some of the blame on their cleaning service. In an SEC, UniFirst says it got a letter from the pharmacy, saying they take legal responsibility for claims related to the meningitis outbreak. But in a statement to OUTFRONT, UniFirst says they only provided 90-minute cleaning sessions for NECC once a month. And so, the claims are without merit.

The United States added 155,000 jobs in December, enough to keep up with population growth. The unemployment rate, though, held firm at 7.8 percent. The economists we spoke to pointed out increases in hourly wages and hours work. Those are good signs. If those things go up, eventually, you theoretically -- theoretically is the key word right now -- need to hire new people.

It has been 519 days since this country lost its top credit rating. What do we do to get it back?

Well, today, there was job data and there was another strong piece of economic data. And S&P 500 responded, closing at its highest level since December 2007.

And now, our fourth story OUTFRONT: get ready for the second black president. Not our theory but that of BuzzFeed Ben, otherwise known as BuzzFeed's Ben Smith.

And one reason he writes is, I'll quote him, "African-Americans represent a vital voting bloc in Democratic primaries and they, like most ethnic groups, typically rally around the favorite son or daughter."

OUTFRONT tonight: Ben Smith, along with Reihan Salam and Roland Martin.

OK, great to see all of you.

So, Ben, make the case. I mean, you've got African-Americans. OK, they, as you say, like other ethnic groups, may be loyal to a certain person, but they're still a small voting group.

BEN SMITH, BUZZFEED.COM: I mean, in Democratic primary in politics, those are the biggest unified bloc. We're talking in, you know, in South Carolina, 55 percent. But large numbers in key states.

I mean, really, the thing -- I mean, the core of the argument is that in politics, people always expect the next thing to be different. The next thing is always the same. The House Republicans screwed up last week, they'll screw up again this week.

BURNETT: All right. Well, that is -- yes.

SMITH: Politics is a very repetitive business, and Obama, you know, showed this very clear path through a Democratic primary process, and I think you've be -- you know, they're going to be two very strong African-American candidates probably looking at 2016 and who see they have a path that -- you know, Obama charted for them.

BURNETT: Who are they?

SMITH: I mean, the two who come to my mind are Deval Patrick, former governor of Massachusetts, sort of classic insider establishment credentials for the kind of nomination, you know, Mike Dukakis got.

And then, Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark who is kind of in terms of his persona on the national stage is a super mayor. You know, he has the kind of access to the national media and to a national fundraising network that you already need for presidential run and it looks like he's running for Senate in 2014.

BURNETT: And, obviously, he's popular in New York.

Roland, so -- you know, Roland, I love that you always say what you think. Last night, when you saw Ben's argument, you tweeted, quote, "Your theory is insane. Ain't going to happen. Of the two, Patrick is more plausible than Booker. But won't happen."

All right. You have more than 140 characters here. Why not?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, if you examine in terms of this whole notion who African-Americans vote for. In 1992, Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder, short-lived run for president. You got Al Sharpton ran in 2004, along with former Senator Carol Moseley Braun. It's not like black folks ran behind their campaign.

Although President Obama obviously was elected in '08, and re- elected in 2012, you simply can't assume that African-American voters are going jump behind anybody who's black who's running. Also, look at Tom Bradley, first black mayor of Los Angeles. He's still the first black mayor. David Dinkins, first black mayor of New York, still the first black mayor. You look at Lee Brown, first black mayor of Houston. He is still the first black mayor.

So, you have examples of what you had first and you did not have successors follow them for a variety of reasons.

SMITH: For a variety of reasons. But, you know -- I mean, certainly it would depend on Obama first being a two-term president. Dinkins was not, which Obama will be, and being seen as successful president. Nobody's going to elect a Democrat if his term is a disaster.

But I think, you know, we're not talking Carol Moseley Braun or Al Sharpton. We're talking about people with star power, with qualifications. What Obama showed is all else being equal and extremely qualified candidate --

BURNETT: They're very Obamaesque both of them and certainly --

MARTIN: OK, but let me remind you. Carol Moseley Braun was a former United States senator.

I'm simply making the argument that look, it's not as simply to say, well, just because you're black, you're going to automatically get the same kind of support. And let me also say something that people don't want to deal, that African-American political structure, infrastructure out there, there's still this belief that, well, what do you get from having somebody who's African-American who was running.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: You're going to see white Democrats play a different role.

SMITH: Well, sure. But that infrastructure which did not particularly like Barack Obama was not able to stop him. And I'm not sure the infrastructure was the key then.

MARTIN: Actually. Actually it did, Ben.

BURNETT: What else are we missing, Reihan?

REIHAN SALAM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Another thing to keep in mind is that Barack Obama wasn't just the candidate of African-Americans, as Ben noted in his article. He was also the candidate of upscale college-educated, white liberal voters. And the thing is, in a Democratic white primary right now, if you get both of those constituencies, you have a very formidable voting bloc.

That's -- not again, not coming from one side. When you look at a lot of these other attendants, many people assume that Hillary Clinton, by virtue of being a Clinton, was going to get support from the black community, because after all Bill Clinton was very popular in that group.

(CROSSTALK)

SALAM: So that's the other piece. That's the complicating story with Ben's story.

If you have a woman who's running as well, that's another powerful identity politics play that could confuse this picture, particularly if you have a woman who has a lot of working class credibility, versus candidates like Booker and a candidate like Patrick.

I think that the liability that Booker and Patrick have, remember that Barack Obama, in his 2000 run for Congress, he ran against an African-American from the south side of Chicago who said that Barack Obama wasn't really authentic and he didn't have an authentic tie to that community. Cory Booker also has that.

So, these guys have some potential liabilities as well.

MARTIN: We're making a huge mistake, Erin, and that is, again, Governor Deval Patrick is a governor.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: No, no, no. Governor Deval Patrick is a governor. I have been saying for years that people have been saying that Cory Booker would be a president one day. Look, you're putting cart before the horse. He is the mayor of Newark, OK? He hasn't won the U.S. Senate race. He hasn't even gotten there.

You're not going to see somebody go from mayor's office go to the Oval Office. The point there and I've said it, let Cory do his current job, OK? With people, they have been foisting these sort of -- these sort of hype on him for a decade now.

My deal is focus on your job now, because if you keep planning for that next job, you might not get the Senate job.

BURNETT: Let me ask you something, Ben, though, something else you write, because you go beyond saying the next president would be black. You actually go and say something else. I'll quote you here. "The Romney/Ryan debacle probably guaranteed one thing, that the Republican Party will never again present a ticket with two white men on it."

SMITH: Yes, I think people underestimate how much Barack Obama's election change presidential politics. I mean, I think the Republican Party right now -- in the ways you saw in the popularity of Herman Cain who sort of came out of nowhere. I mean, they're really desperate to have a party that looks like America, which is to say, and have leadership that looks American.

And so, I mean, they have a handful of extremely strong candidates who aren't white in Marco Rubio and Bobby Jindal being the top two probably. BURNETT: Right.

SMITH: I think that party's leadership and its rank and file are very eager to kind of break out of this pattern as well.

BURNETT: What about Hillary? When you talk about a female, you know, four years ago when she ran, everyone thought, you know, she would be the one that would get the nomination and she didn't. A lot of people say part of that was because she was a woman and still people had a bias and people had a perception.

Now, how does that really change? Now, it's like, oh, Hillary is the one everybody loves. But Hillary is not just a woman. I mean, any other woman who isn't so well known and gone through this fire might just be dismissed.

SALAM: Well, you know, it's tricky. So, on one level, one of the interesting things about Hillary Clinton is that she's actually not as disliked by Republicans as you might think, particularly by Republican women, and that's partly because she's very familiar figure that's been around for a long time. So, in that sense, she has a unique advantage.

But you also have a small cadre of women, Amy Klobuchar, the senator from Minnesota. You also have Elizabeth Warren who again is very new, but she's a senator from Massachusetts, who is a hero to a lot of progressive. These --

BURNETT: Oh, my God, half the country would be moving to Russia.

(CROSSTALK)

SMITH: You can really that pendulum just keeps swinging left in the nomination --

SALAM: But she's a progressive fire brand who has a base of supporters. That doesn't mean that they're going to win the nomination. But they are going to be women who are going to be part of this process and there are a lot of women who think that it's our turn to get someone who represents our interest and has our voice.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to all three of you.

And why did I say everyone move to Russia and not move to Canada? You'll find out later in the program. It was a purposeful choice.

And now we go to the demonic dangers of bath salts. A horrible story here because there's dramatic public service announcement by the American Navy warning about the dangers of this designer drug. The hope is that sailors will be deterred from turning to bath salts to get high.

Our Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a shocking video in which an actor plays an American sailor high on bath salts. He sees other sailors as demons, punches his girlfriend and gets wielded into the ER, pinned down by paramedics.

LT. GEORGE LOEFFLER, NAVAL MEDICAL CENTER: Bath salts not only will jack up your family and your career. It will jack up your mind and your body, too.

LAWRENCE: The Navy is increasing efforts to warn sailors after military doctors started seeing more cases.

These bath salts don't have anything do with therapy like the salts you use at home.

DR. ALEXANDER GARRARD, UPSTATE NEW YORK POISON CENTER: What we're talking about here are very potent, synthetic drugs that are probably synthesized somewhere overseas, possibly China.

LAWRENCE: Dr. Alex Garrard has seen dozens of cases firsthand.

GARRARD: People act very primal, primal instincts, animalistic behaviors.

LAWRENCE: He's seen users who think they have super human strength and are almost impossible to subdue.

GARRARD: That's where we see things, you know, like the ripping out the taser wires, they're impervious to pain. They don't really feel anything.

LAWRENCE: Why are battle salts popular with troops? They're sold under catchy names like Bolivian Bath or Vanilla Sky. A pack only costs $25 to $50.

GARRARD: It's cheap, perhaps sometimes cheaper than other drugs on the street. You can get it from a head shop, smoke shops. So, it's readily available.

LAWRENCE: You can inject or snort it, smoke it, or swallow. And it doesn't pop positive on a normal urinalysis.

In 2011, an Army sergeant killed himself, his wife, and young son while he was high on bath salts. The Navel academy kicked 16 midshipmen for using another synthetic drug, Spice.

The military started random testing for synthetics last year. But it's hard to keep up with the science.

GARRARD: With all the drug dealers, the chemists have to do is manipulate the molecule ever so slightly. You have a new drug, a new chemical that kind of flies under the radar.

LAWRENCE (on camera): In fact, since the U.S. government banned the two main chemicals that were used in bath salts, another chemical called Nafarone (ph) started showing up and it's 10 times as potent as cocaine.

Now, bath salts cannot be detected during normal urinalysis. But just this week, the Navy started testing sailors and marines specifically for the drug.

Chris Lawrence, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: And still to come, actor Patrick Dempsey says he took on Starbucks and won. He comes OUTFRONT and tells the story.

And Russian President Vladimir Putin adding another movie star to his collection. Is it McDreamy? Oh, no fear. We'll have the answer.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: And we're back with tonight's "Outer Circle" where we reach out to our sources around the world.

And tonight we want go to India because the boyfriend of the woman who died after being brutally gang raped in New Delhi is speaking out for the first time and he told "Reuters", I'll quote him, that the men, quote, "tried to run over us we had no clothes. We waited there hoping someone would help us."

Lawmakers are proposing new measures to try to deal with sexual violence against women in India but people in one northeast village aren't waiting. They have taken matters into their own hands.

Sumnima Udas is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUMNIMA UDAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Indian women fighting back, beating a local politician, ripping off his shirt. He was staying in the village in northern India when he allegedly raped a local woman in the middle of the night. The politician's vehicle is not spared either. Dubbed with the word gunda, meaning goon.

The woman, a middle-aged mother of two, the accused now under arrest and soon to be charged according to local police. His party leaders disowning him.

BHUBANESWAR KALITA, ASSAM POLITICIAN (through translator): We condemn such kind of incidents and if he's found guilty, then the law will take its own course.

UDAS: Such stories would have gone unnoticed especially in rural India where rape is commonplace and the stigma surrounding sexual assault dissuades victims from reporting rape cases.

But now what was taboo in India is on the front pages and leading TV news. And the evidence is shocking. A 19-year-old girl ion Ragistan (ph) set herself on fire after being harassed by a neighbor for years. She died in hospital Friday. A woman in Bihar (ph) jumped off a moving train after two soldiers allegedly tried to molest her.

Indian laws vague on sex crimes but charges such as outraging or insulting the modesty of women. Now, there are demands for complete overhaul of the legal framework.

The watershed moment, the brutal gang rape of a medical student in New Delhi last month.

Stirring unprecedented public outrage.

RPN SINGH, JUNIOR INTERIOR MINISTER: The best to remember is how each one of us here can work to make sure that this never happens again. The entire country is watching us with great expectations. We cannot fail their hopes. I think we need to set the agenda here with two words: zero tolerance.

UDAS: The minister has called for more female police officers, a help line has been set up and one state plans a public Web site with details of all convicted rapists.

The big question now: whether all the promises will become a reality and help the women become more secure.

Sumnima Udas, CNN, New Delhi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: Now we go to Birmingham, England, where Malala Yousafzai has been released. The Taliban shot and almost killed Malala, targeting her because she was fighting for girls' education.

Matthew Chance is following Malala and I asked him what's next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, she'll be convalescing at first with her family their new home in Birmingham, England, near the hospital, but still, according to her doctors, continues to receive treatment and therapy as an outpatient. The hospital also says that although Malala is being discharged now, she'll have to be readmitted sometime at the end of this month, through the beginning of February for reconstructive surgery on her skull which was, of course, shattered when she was shot at point blank range in the head by Taliban gunmen last October.

So, really, great to see these latest pictures of Malala walking out of hospital, but these are just first steps along what is likely to be a very long road towards recovery -- Erin.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: I love that sweet little wave that she gave.

Let's check in with Sanjay Gupta. He's in for Anderson Cooper. What's coming up on "A.C. 360", Sanjay?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, we're keeping them honest ahead on the program, with some new information, in fact, explosive allegations that are exclusive to 360 about what really happened in Steubenville, Ohio, the night that two high school football players allegedly did the unthinkable to a very drunk 16-year-old allegedly raping her at several parties. We've got new reporting on that, and you're going to hear it first on "360". But we are going to speak with attorneys from both sides to get their reaction to this new information.

Also, ahead a "360" follow. You know, we've been following the case of baby Veronica for months now. Today, the Supreme Court decided it was also interested, agreeing to hear the case and effectively decide who get to raise the little girl, either Veronica's adoptive parents or her biological father who is a member of the Cherokee nation.

We got those stories and tonight's number one "Ridiculist" of 2012, all of it at the top of the hour -- Erin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: Our big story out front, McDreamy verses the mermaid. Dr. McDreamy on "Grey's Anatomy" says he's now a proud owner of a small Seattle-based coffee chain. Starbucks, the coffee giant, came in with the green mermaid logo. They said not so fast. So, who is the new owner of Tully's coffee?

OUTFRONT tonight, Dr. McDreamy himself, Patrick Dempsey.

It is a real pleasure. You know, I guess it took this to get you on the show, but we're excited to have you.

So, can I just start by asking you, why did you want to do this? Why buy a coffee chain?

PATRICK DEMPSEY, ACTOR: Tully's is a beloved brand here. And there's such a loyal following between the workers and customers that it just felt right and it came together in many ways quite easily. And it's really exciting to be a part of this movement, really.

And it was a brand that needed to be preserved. There were 500 jobs at stake. And, you know, it just felt right.

And I'm really excited about this. We had a great day today going around to all of the different stores and meeting the managers and the employees and the customers. And you find the passion behind this brand and this coffee company is really quite exciting.

BURNETT: It was -- it was funny. You tweeted out last night, it caught everyone's attention. Your tweet, "We met the green monster, looked her in the eye, and she blinked. We got it. Thank you, Seattle." Obviously talking about the mermaid. DEMPSEY: Yes. Well, I think this was a company that wanted to bury this company and to put 500 people out of work. And it was a very emotional 13 hours in the room to try to get this company and to save these jobs. And it was a very long battle.

BURNETT: Now, let me ask you a little bit about that. Starbucks says to us that, you know, if they were to win the auction, and, I know, obviously, it's going to be decided formally in court in a few days. But they would allow everyone who works at Tully's to go ahead and reapply. So, they said they're not going to fire everyone. They also say that their offer was $10.6 million, which they say is higher than yours at $9.2 million.

So are you sure this is really done? That you're really going to be the new owner?

DEMPSEY: I am, I really am. I think they're not really accurate in what they're saying. But there were 10 people there making a decision, and we were the best bidder, and I think they made the right decision.

BURNETT: And so let me ask you about sort of again a little more about why you did this. You love the brand and you wanted to get involved there, but why Seattle? Why do this?

I mean, look, I know you're into a lot of different things. You've got racing, car racing. You're a guy with a lot of different interests.

But why this, why now, and why Seattle?

DEMPSEY: Well, it presented itself to me. I thought it was a great opportunity. I love Seattle. I like this town very much, as you know, I grew up in a small town in Maine. The Pacific Northwest reminds me a lot of Maine.

And I just have a strong connection here. I think a lot of it has to do with the show, and when I'm on the stage shooting "Grey's Anatomy", I see images of Seattle all the time. And to be here in the studio is where we have the hospital at Seattle Grace.

BURNETT: Oh, really?

DEMPSEY: Oddly enough, I have a strange connection here, and I feel very comfortable here. And the way this has unfolded, it just seems to be the right thing to do. And even the connection with the customers and the employees and Tully's has been a very quick but very exciting, and there's a great passion with all of this.

BURNETT: So are you going to be spending more time up in Seattle?

DEMPSEY: Oh, yes, I think it's very important to be involved in the management of this company and turning it around. There's a lot of work we need to do, cleaning it up and just getting some stability in this company, just giving us a strong foundation. Certainly looking internationally and to expand over there, but to keep what we have going here and to stabilize that. There's a lot of work to do, and I like that challenge.

And certainly, I'm in show business, it is a business, and this is one more extension of doing business, which I love doing.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you so much. Really appreciate you taking the time, and good luck to you.

DEMPSEY: Thank you very much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: All right. OUTFRONT next, Russian President Vladimir Putin about to add another major movie star to his collection. Yes, just -- they're flocking to him. We'll tell you who it is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Yesterday, we brought you a story about the French actor Gerard Depardieu. Now, he was very frustrated with France's high tax rates and thought they could go higher. So Depardieu announced he is giving up his French citizenship and going to move somewhere else. And at the moment, it appears Russia is the most likely destination, because Vladimir Putin promised the actor Russian citizenship.

But Depardieu is not the only one. Today, another French star has announced she is going to do exactly the same thing. Legendary actress Brigitte Bardot has announced that she's considering moving to Russia if Putin is willing to give her citizenship.

Now, unlike Depardieu, she's leaving over the taxes, though. She's leaving over animals. A French court has ordered that two circus elephants being euthanized due to fears they're carrying tuberculosis and pose a risk to the public. Now, Bardot runs an animal rights foundation and wants those elephants spared.

And she said, quote, "If those in power are cowardly and impudent enough to kill the elephant and I have decided I will ask for Russian nationality to get out of this country, which has become nothing more than an animal cemetery."

Now, she's obviously very passionate about the issue, but it raises an interesting question. I mean, why is everybody picking Russia? Is it OK to turn your back on your country if you don't agree with something that happens, whether it be taxes or euthanizing animals or who knows what it might be?

Over the past 16 months, we have seen a lot of high-profile Americans threaten to leave the United States. There was a guy who moved -- from Facebook and moved over to Singapore. And there were some Republicans who threatened to move to Canada when Obama won re- election.

Now, just a few questions for you, our viewers. What would it take for you to get rid of your American citizenship, to put that passport down? Because let me tell you, it's really hard to get it back once you give it up. Where would you move?

As we said, let's get a little more creative than Canada. While we love you, Canada, let's se some other countries. Now, Russia is on the list.

Let us know on Twitter and Facebook. We look forward to sharing your responses. Have a great weekend.

Anderson starts now.