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Criticism Grows Over Hagel Pick; Democrats Push for New Tax Revenue; New Colorado Theater Shooting Evidence; New Details about Newtown Shooter

Aired January 7, 2013 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, President Obama gears up for his next fight with Republicans. This time, it's over his defense secretary nominee.

Plus just days after our taxes went up during the fiscal negotiations. Some Democrats said we need more taxes, higher taxes. Yes, we're going to get answers.

And new details about the Aurora theatre massacre, for the first time, police describe the scene and what they found when they first saw James Holmes. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, saving Sergeant Hagel. President Obama rearing for a fight over his defense secretary nominee, but you may say, why is there a fight?

Because on paper, at least, to be honest, I mean, this guy is pretty incredible. It looks like he would be a lock for a job that usually is one with pretty much 100 percent of the Senate voting aye.

Military experience, check that box. He would be the first enlisted man and first Vietnam vet to serve as secretary of defense, he was wounded in combat and he earned two purple hearts. Business and management experience, after all, the Pentagon is a huge organization. Check.

Hagel cofounded a company called "Vanguard Cellular Systems," which made him a multimillionaire. And knowing how to get things done in Washington, check on that. Hagel served two terms as a U.S. senator from Nebraska and served as deputy administrator of the Veterans' Administration.

Plus he's a Republican nominated by a Democrat, so it sounds pretty perfect, right? Well, today, President Obama told the nation why he loved Chuck Hagel.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: In the Senate, I came to admire his courage and his judgment, his willingness to speak his mind, even if it wasn't popular, even if it defied the conventional wisdom.


BURNETT: His willingness to speak his mind though is part of what's getting him in trouble with members of both parties. There's a very long and detailed record, for example, on what he thinks about Iran.

OUTFRONT tonight, David Frum, former senior adviser to George W. Bush and Doug Wilson, former Pentagon press secretary during President Obama's first term.

All right, I want to start with both of you, and David, I want to start with issue number one tonight, Israel. He has been criticized, Chuck Hagel, that is, for using the term Jewish lobby.

Now he used it in 2006 interview and here is what he said, quote, "The political reality is that the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here. I have always argued against some of the dumb things they do because I don't think it's in the interest of Israel.

I just don't think it's smart for Israel. Now some critics including Bill Clinton's former special counsel, Lanny Davis, say Chuck Hagel owes an apology for that. After all, not all Jews support everything that Israel does.

There could be an Israeli lobby, but does could be different very much so than -- from an Israel lobby so -- from a Jewish lobby. Does Hagel have to explain himself, David?

DAVID FRUM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I don't want to parse a brief phrase that a nominee has used. Many people use unfortunate phrases and go on to be excellent nominees. The problem with Chuck Hagel is not a phrase. The problem with Chuck Hagel is a consistent attitude.

The next secretary of defense will be -- will likely to have deal with two basic types of issues at the top of the inbox. The first is managing a defense build down, if the sequester goes into effect, a very dramatic defense build down.

So you need someone with excellent military management experience, which Chuck Hagel does not have. I think you were too kind to him in the opening presentation. The second challenge will be the challenge of Iran. We are probably coming to the extreme decision point with Iran in the four years ahead.

And Chuck Hagel has shown himself again and again very credulous on what you can achieve by negotiating with Iran. At this point, almost everybody's eyes have been opened to the impossibility of arriving at a negotiated solution.

And yet Chuck Hagel has insisted that such solutions are reachable with Iran, with Hamas, and Hezbollah. So there is a question, is he hard-headed enough. Is he tough minded enough? It's one thing that he disagrees with everybody.

But if you disagree with everybody and you are wrong then being wrong by yourself is no improvement over being wrong in a group. BURNETT: Doug, let me ask you about Iran since David raises that point. Hagel voted against sanctions. Now he said he's for multilateral sanctions, but he voted against unilateral sanctions. He voted against recognizing the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.

That of course was well outside the mainstream. The Senate voted 76- 22 in favor of that, and in 2006, to David's point, Hagel said, and I'll just quote him in part, I would say that a military strike against Iran, a military option, is not a viable, feasible, responsible option.

I believe a political settlement will be the answer, not a military settlement. Now since then, to be fair, he has tempered his point of view. In an op-ed as recently as September, he said war with Iran is not inevitable, but U.S. security is seriously threatened by a nuclear armed Iran. But is he really outside the mainstream, Doug, on Iran?

DOUG WILSON, FORMER PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: I have to say I have served three different periods at the Pentagon over the last 15 years. And there's an expression at the Pentagon called hair on fire.

When people get all excited over essentially little or nothing, and when the dust settles, you're able to deal with the facts. I think people should be very proud of this nomination of Senator Hagel.

He brings to this not only experience as a veteran, as someone who served in uniform, but as somebody who understands the reality of the world. With regard to his position on Iran and on sanctions, he's made clear that he supports this president and he supports the toughest multilateral sanctions that have ever been imposed on this country -- on that country.

BURNETT: So should we not care if his personal views run contrary? Especially when it comes, well, Benjamin Netanyahu says there's a six- month time frame. You know, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told me he thinks it's a little bit longer.

But there could be a decision that has to be made on Iran. It doesn't matter what he personally would do as long as he is going to do what the president has already said he would do, which is a military option on the table.

WILSON: I think we ought to respect the fact that the president has chosen him as his nominee because he knows that he's going to get his honest views, because he knows that he's going to get his complete loyalty, and because he knows that he has served in uniform and he has been in on the battle.

And he understands that war is a last resort and that the United States will put all options on the table and will become involved militarily when it needs to become involved, but we have to understand what the implications of that are, and he understands that personally. And I think that he represents the vast majority of military leaders in that regard. BURNETT: You know, David, from one follow on this though. In an interview in March of this year, Chuck Hagel on Iran talking about a war, he said there will be a lot of killing. These things start and you can't control. They escalate, they always do and they always will.

I don't think we're necessarily locked into two options. In a sense, it's a very wise thing to say. That sometimes we create false choices in this country, war or no war. Is he perhaps just being nuanced and thoughtful?

FRUM: Look, we all want to avoid a military outcome in Iran. Everybody wants to avoid that. It is really a bad option, but to what Doug has said secretary of defense do not really execute orders from the president. They are actually con -- they advise the president.

They are channels for military opinion and they shape the options that are available to the president. Some information reaches the president. Other information does not reach the president.

If you have a strongly opinionated secretary of defense, which Chuck Hagel would be, who has strong views on the question of Iran, and he's told us what they are, it is a very realistic fear that what the president will hear will be shaped by his secretary of defense's views.

And that quote you just read, we don't know, God forbid, if there is a military confrontation with Iran, we don't know what that will look like. You can devise scenarios that are very, very frightening. You can devise scenarios that are less frightening.

The secretary of defense may have some interest in putting the might frightening scenarios before the president, that they will deter presidential action, and holding back some of the more optimistic scenarios because they might encourage an action he disapproves of anyone.

BURNETT: All right, I want to go to one other issue here. This isn't about policy, but it is a policy that is relevant to the Defense Department, which has been dealing with gays and lesbians in the military, and it's also a very important thing in terms of your values.

I want to bring in Gregory Angelo now, the director of the Log Cabin Republican. Gregory, the Log Cabin Republicans has put a full page ad out opposing Hagel. You put in the "Washington Post."

In 1998, it goes back in part to this. Hagel called James Hormel, who was then President Clinton's choice for the American Ambassador Luxembourg openly, aggressively gay, and he said Hormel's sexual orientation would prevent him from doing, I will quote him again, "ineffective job."

Now, Hagel recently apologized. Hormel initially told the "Washington Post," he thought that apology was insincere, but he subsequently put out a statement saying, the timing appears self-serving, but he believes the words are unequivocal and they are a clear apology.

Is there anything Hagel can do to change your mind as someone who is out there fighting for gay rights in America?

GREGORY T. ANGELO, INTERIM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LOG CABIN REPUBLICANS: It's highly unlikely. Looking right now, it's not just a matter of the statements that Chuck Hagel said about James Hormel. We're looking at his entire record.

In his apology incidentally, he asked everyone to look at the totality of his record when it came to gay and lesbian issues. And what our "Washington Post" ad this morning looks at is the totality of those issues.


ANGELO: We look at everything from his support of the defense of marriage act to the statements that he made about James Hormel and also to his references about "Don't Ask Don't Tell," his support of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" stating that he would be opposed to repeal because it would be social experimentation, and that has no place in the military.

Log Cabin Republicans has spent a significant amount of time and a significant amount of money working for repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" in 2010, and right now what we need in our next secretary of defense is someone who can smoothly implement the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell."

BURNETT: Can someone call someone openly, aggressively gay accidentally without being pejorative?

ANGELO: I suppose anything might be possible, but certainly Chuck Hagel apologized for what he said, so clearly he felt bad about it, if you want to call what he said an apology.

It's worth noting also that that apology was only issued shortly after his name was floated as a potential nominee for secretary of defense. So you have to wonder about the timing of that apology as well.

And also the fact that as you mentioned, when James Hormel accepted that apology, he did so with reservations, he said that it was a self- serving statement although it was something that he did accept.

BURNETT: Let me give you a chance to respond about this. You have been open about your sexuality. So what do you think about his comment, openly, aggressively gay.

WILSON: He apologized for that comment and a number of groups have accepted that apology including the human rights campaign. I have to pay tribute to the Log Cabin Republicans who were instrumental in helping get the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell," but I disagree with them and with the ad.

I'm the first -- I was the first openly gay senior official to serve at the Pentagon. And I have seen the evolution of views and part of the reason that "Don't Ask Don't Tell" succeeded on the floor of the Senate is that there had been an evolution of views.

And there were votes by members of the Senate who had similar records of Senator Hagel who voted for the repeal. Senator Hagel has made clear that he supports fully the full implementation of the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and LGTB family members. And he will have an opportunity, I hope, if confirmed, to demonstrate that with that full support.

BURNETT: All right, well, thanks very much to all three of you. Appreciate your taking the time and everyone please let us know what you think about Chuck Hagel's views on these three issues and others. This is going to be a crucial nomination for this cabinet.

Still to come, just days ago the fiscal cliff raised all of our taxes, but some Democrats say it's not enough, so they want to raise taxes more. How much more and on whom? Yes, we're probably talking about you.

Plus, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gets high marks from voters in his home state. Why that could make him the candidate for 2016.

And new details in the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre, some details tonight about what the shooter was actually wearing that morning.


BURNETT: Our second story, OUTFRONT, raising your taxes a lot more. The ink is barely dry on the bill to avert the fiscal cliff, which did raise taxes on income dividends and capital gains as well as limiting deductions and a couple of Medicare surtax charged that got put in there.

It also, of course, limited the AMT, which affected many Americans, not just those at the top. It also increased payroll taxes on everyone and already, some Democrats are pushing for tax revenues of up to a trillion dollars to be a part of the upcoming debt ceiling debate.

OUTFRONT tonight, Stephen Moore, senior economics writer with the "Wall Street Journal" editorial page and Robert Reich, former U.S. Labor Secretary and author of "Beyond Outrage, What Is Going Wrong With Our Economy and Democracy and How To Fix It."

All right, Robert Reich, let me start with you because all of the tax revenue from the fiscal cliff deal adds up to about $600 billion over ten years according to some estimates.

Now obviously, relative to our debt problem, that is not even a drop in the proverbial bucket. But here we are with the Democrats after this big deal where taxes went up on a whole list of things. They want nearly twice as much as money more in taxes. For real, they think they're going to get that?

ROBERT REICH, PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC POLICY, UC BERKELEY: Well, they're certainly going to try to gets it, Erin. I don't know any Republicans or Democrats for that matter who wants to raise taxes simply for the sake of more taxes. This is all in anticipation of a very, very large budget deficit in the out years.

If we don't get more revenues, we're going to have to cut more into military spending, Social Security, Medicare, on infrastructure, all of the public investments that we have in this country.

So the whole purpose of trying to get more tax revenue and hopefully trying to get more tax revenue from wealthiest Americans rather than from middle class and poor Americans is so that government can do a lots of things Americans want government to do.

BURNETT: All right, I want to ask you where that money is going to come those wealthy Americans in a moment, but first, Stephen, let me come to you. Here is the president and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi this week on this issue.


PRESIDENT OBAMA: The wealthiest individuals and the biggest corporations shouldn't be able to take advantage of loopholes that aren't available to most Americans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you then saying to the upper classes, get ready, you're going to have to pay some more? This is not the end of it?

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: I'm saying that's not off the table.


BURNETT: So, can the Republicans stop this or not? They're going to push for more.

STEPHEN MOORE, SENIOR ECONOMICS WRITER, "WALL STREET JOURNAL" EDITORIAL PAGE: Erin, I think you read the book, called "Republicans are from Venus, Democrats are from Mars." I mean, what is happening right now is the two parties are completely talking past each other.

You know, the Republicans, Mitch McConnell this weekend and obviously other key Republicans including John Boehner, the speaker, said, you know, the Democrats have had their tax increase, they're done. As you said, the Democrats are saying we want another bite of that apple.

Honestly, I don't think they're going to get it in the next two years. I think the Republicans are pretty almost universally unified they're not going to go for any more taxes. Let me just make one other quick point.

I was struck by what the president said, you played the clip of saying there are all these loopholes in the tax code and we could raise money if we got rid of them, and all I could think is, my goodness, Mr. President, who put all of these loopholes in the tax bill that just passed.

Who put all the money in for the wind subsidy, the biggest single loophole in that tax bill, which was the enormous subsidy for the wind industry so, you know, it's interesting people are saying we have to get rid of those loopholes are the people who put the loopholes in the taxes in the first place.

BURNETT: I think we can all agree that everybody hates a loophole unless it's their own. But Robert, let me ask you. So fiscal cliff deal, right, in terms of the wealthiest Americans, income tax rates went up, capital gains rate went up, dividend rates went up, there was a Medicare surtax on both of those things.

The estate tax was adjusted. Alternative minimum tax affected all people in this country. Medicare surcharge on income affected the wealthy and there was a limiting of deductions, which means that some wealthy lose up to 80 percent of their deductions.

Now I know that you can always find ways to raise taxes on people, but what else can Democrats touch? That was a pretty exhaustive list?

REICH: Well, it sounds like a pretty exhaustive list, Erin, but remember the revenue generate was only $600 billion. And $600 billion as you said at the top of the segment is really a drop in the bucket in terms of what we need to do with regard to getting the deficit down.

Even if we cut spending dramatically so we're going to have to search for other sources. What are the other sources? For example, mortgage interest deductions, suppose you buy -- you're wealthy enough. You buy a $20 million house.

You have a mortgage interest deduction of something in the order of $30,000 or $40,000 or $50,000 a year. Well, should that be limited? I think that is a very important question or take, for example, something we talked about a lot during the election.

That is private equity managers and many hedge funds managers who can treat their income as capital gains rather than as ordinary income and even the under new deal, the budget cliff deal --

MOORE: Bob, here is the problem with what you're saying --

REICH: Steve, you'll agree with me on this, I'm sure.

MOORE: Here is the problem. First of all, you and I agree that we should get rid of all of these loopholes. This is interesting though, Erin, that when Mitt Romney talked about this in the campaign of putting a cap on these deductions, it was the Democrats, people like Robert Reich, maybe not you personally, but people of your philosophy who said we can't do that. Here's the point --

REICH: We actually do believe --

MOORE: What?

REICH: I don't know why Democrats aren't in favor of putting a cap on those deductions. I'm saying if we're going to get something done on this, Erin, what is going to have to happen is Democrats are going to have to agree to reduce the tax rates in exchange for getting rid of those loopholes to make the tax system work.

BURNETT: Or Bob Reich, we're going to have to raise taxes on everyone, as NPR ran the numbers. If you raise taxes by 8 percent on the middle class, you raise more money than you do by taxing millionaires at 100 percent.

REICH: There the question is how do you define the beginning and middle of the middle class? I mean, is middle class $75,000 or is it $110,000 a year? Some places around the country, people consider like in the city of San Francisco, where I live pretty close to San Francisco, people say, well, middle class is probably $120,000 to $140,000 a year.

We're going to have to do that kind of calculations, make those kinds of judgments, because undoubtedly, people do not want to cut the military as drastically as even Chuck Hagel may want to cut it. We are not going to want to cut Medicare and Social Security, and we're not going to want to cut education and roads and bridges.

BURNETT: Very, very quick final point because we have to leave it there.

MOORE: This is exactly what we have been saying on the "Wall Street Journal" editorial board for the last six months. You can't get the money you need to fund all these programs by just taxing the rich.

And we have only had this tax increase on the rich for what, 72 hours, and already people like Nancy Pelosi are saying we have to tax the middle class, and by the way, that's where the money is. You just said, Erin, if you want the money, you have to go after the middle class.

REICH: Let me just say -- no, no, the rich among us, the "Wall Street Journal" editorial page probably thinks the middle class starts around, what, $500,000 a year?

MOORE: Well, the president thinks it's $30,000 a year.

BURNETT: I'm going to hit pause there, but we'll have you both back as we always do because this topic is not going away.

And now our third story, OUTFRONT, reliving the horror in Aurora. Today, police officers recalled the details of the movie theatre shooting that left 12 dead on July 20th. One officer said the alleged shooter James Holmes was, quote, "very, very relaxed after the shooting."

This case could hinge on Holmes' mental health, which is a topic, of course, we've covered a lot on OUTFRONT with these horrific shootings that happened last year.

Ed Lavendera is following the case from outside the courthouse in Centennial, Colorado. Ed, obviously a tough day for the officers to come and have to relive this and recount what they saw, but what did their testimony tell us about Holmes' mental state? ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Erin. It was significant because this is really the first time we have heard from the officers who made this initial arrest of James Holmes. And there were several things that I thought stood out.

This is going to be at the end here a struggle between premeditation, how much of this did James Holmes deliberately plan out and obviously what the defense will be trying to do in the coming months as they head toward trial is kind of plant those seeds about whether or not mental health issues came into play here.

One of the things I thought was interesting we learned about today is James Holmes purchased the ticket for the movie, the "Dark Knight Rises," July 8th, 12 days before the movie premiered here at the Aurora Theatre.

And then he came in. The ticket was on his cell phone. They showed video of the scene of James Holmes walking into the theatre and he scanned it. Moments later, that same video would show the stampede of people rushing to get out.

What we also heard from the officers who approached him, who initially thought he was all decked out from ankle to head body armor, and they thought he was one of them, a fellow SWAT officer. It wasn't until some of these officers got closer and realized he wasn't acting like any other officer at the scene.

That they knew they had their suspect, and they said he never put up any resistance. One of the officers that initially handcuffed him said he looked spaced out, appeared to be staring out into space, but at the same time, appeared fully aware of everything going on around him.

BURNETT: And what are we going to learn this week about his mental state since that's going to be so crucial as to whether he's fit to stand and what the punishment could be?

LAVANDERA: Well, you know, if you have been following this case closely, we have learned over the last few months that James Holmes had some contact with a psychiatrist at the University of Colorado where he had just dropped out, and University of Denver, excuse me, and that was a woman by the name of Lynn Fenton.

But so far, her discussions with him have been protected by patient privacy laws, and a big question as to whether or not we'll hear any details of their conversations. There is that witness, whether or not she's testify this week still remains unclear.

There are also two other mystery witnesses that we have learned in a previous hearing that defense attorneys want to call. We don't know what they will say as well. That whole issue of mental health issues and how that will play into the defense still hasn't been played out.

It will be up to the defense and when they make that determination, if they introduce that as their defense, all of this will open up and prosecutors will be able to question specifically that psychiatrist and what kind of conversations.

And probably get a much better picture of what led to all of this, but until that happens, a lot of this is closed off to prosecutors and they're unable to get that information.

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Ed Lavendera. We're going to be talking to him through the week as we find out more to so many of these questions we just haven't been able to get answers to.

OUTFRONT next, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gets high marks from voters in New Jersey and why that might be enough to sweep him into the White House in 2016.

And actor, Gerard Depardieu, the name we love to say, had a face-to- face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Putin gave him a present.


BURNETT: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT. We start with stories we care about where we focus on reporting from the front line. First, compared to Chuck Hagel for defense secretary, will President Obama's nomination of John Brennan as the next CIA director be met with a heck of a lot less controversy?

You might not be so sure about that. Critics want to derail the potential Brennan nomination for CIA director in 2009 because of his support for harsh interrogations.

CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen also points out that Brennan is the principal architect of the administration's drone policy which, of course, has been controversial in places like Pakistan and Yemen.

And that is likely to be a topic of discussion during the Brennan confirmation hearing. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates that American drones have killed as many as 171 civilians in Yemen since 2002. But again the real story is in Pakistan, where nearly 1,000 people have been killed, civilians, since 2004 by American drones.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is back at work after being hospitalized for three days after doctors found the blood clot in between her skull and brain. Her staff welcomed her back to work today with some fitting gifts -- a football helmet, a jersey with the number the 112, which symbolizes the number of countries she's visited as secretary of state. Even as Clinton's blood clot is still present, Dr. David Dayton (ph) of Georgetown University hospital tells OUTFRONT it can be regulated with medication.

And an OUTFRONT update on a story that we have been following, and you all have seemed to like us following. So, we're going to keep following it.

French actor Gerard Depardieu met with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the weekend. I mean, this was like a love affair. The president gave Depardieu a Russian passport and officially welcomed him to the country.

He was reportedly offered a job -- I'm not joking here -- to be cultural minister, but apparently he declined. Depardieu sought Russian citizenship to sidestep French President Francois Hollande's plan to tax millionaires at 75 percent.

It's been 522 days since the United States lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?

Well, today, the Bipartisan Policy Center said the United States we're going to start defaulting between February 15 and March 1. Happy Valentine's Day, China. Unless Congress raises its debt ceiling.

OK. Our fourth story OUTFRONT: President Christie?

Days after publicly taking on his own party over storm relief, New Jersey's governor got a big stamp of approval. There was a poll that just came out from Fairleigh Dickinson University gave Governor Chris Christie 73 percent approval rating among New Jersey voters. That's really important and significant. The reason is because New Jersey is a big "d" Democrat state. It went for President Obama in each of the two past presidential elections.

So is Christie the biggest contender for 2016?

OUTFRONT tonight: John Avlon, Reihan Salam and Roland Martin.

All right, this is a guy that -- he says what he thinks, Roland. He says what he thinks.

OK. So, let me start off with this. A lot of Republicans, John, have been questioning his party loyalty in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy because, you know, in the final days of the campaign, he appeared with and complimented President Obama. Let's just -- and then afterwards, he got very angry about the vote, right? And he slammed John Boehner.

So, loving Obama, hating Boehner, here he is.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (D), NEW JERSEY: Our delegation asked for a meeting with the speaker at that time, they were refused. I called the speaker four times last night after 11:20, and he did not take my calls. So you have to ask the speaker.

It's just -- it is why the American people hate Congress.

When the president does things that deserve praise, I will give him praise. And when the president does things that deserve scorn, I'll give him scorn.


BURNETT: You know what, he should work with Bob Handan (ph), his job, our producer. He's the kind of guy who would call someone four times after 11:20, if they weren't answering the phone, he'll say, answer the phone. That kind of says something Chris Christie.

JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It does. He's relentless.


AVLON: And, look, I mean, he's an independent-minded guy, that's why the poll numbers are doing so well. And that, of course, what upsets these sort of predictable hyperpartisans that end up being the bulwark of a party, those folks are irritated with Chris Christie. They are members of the Romney camp that blamed him somehow for losing the election.


AVLON: But for being the governor of the state, instead of frankly a predictable partisan hack and politicizing a hurricane disaster relief. But that's precisely what makes so many independents, and centrists and folks across the board like Chris Christie. If the conservative agencia (ph) doesn't like it, great, they're actually irrelevant in the grand scheme of things except in their own chattering class.

BURNETT: Reihan --


AVLON: I'm looking at you.

REIHAN SALAM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: All right. Let's hear it, let's hear it.

BURNETT: Reihan wrote that Christie has, quote, "lost some of his luster on the right."

So, how much damage has he done? Because after all, the guy has to got to win a primary?

SALAM: Yes, that's very true. But here's the thing, you've got to work the angles, Erin. So, the possibility is that, yes, he's not necessarily going to be the conservative stalwart champion. There are going to be a lot of people competing for that role.

And guess what? If there are five or six guys who are competing to be the conservative stalwart champion who comes right down the middle. And he's like, hey, I'm a different kind of Republican, I appeal to swing voters. I can actually win this election for you in a tough environment. So, hold your noses, vote for me even if you're not 100 percent, and I can actually win the White House.

That's how Bill Clinton pulled it off in 1992. He took on a ton of liberal constituencies but because the Democratic brand was damaged in '92, he was able to distance himself from it to help Democrats.

BURNETT: Much like the Republican brand is now.


SALAM: Look, let me --


BURNETT: Yes, Roland.

MARTIN: Last I checked, criticizing Congress is not going to somehow hurt you with the American people. So, Governor Christie is frankly walking on -- he's like Jesus walking on water criticizing Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

But here's the other piece you have to keep in mind. We're four years away. This whole notion of what's going to happen, so many things could very well happen. But if Chris Christie is able to reach out to grassroots folks, he's not all about trying to appeal to Republicans in Congress, Republican governors. It's about appealing to grassroots people.

If he's able to show that kind of enthusiasm, that kind of energy, that's actually going to drag other people along.

BURNETT: Well, I remember his speech at the Ronald Reagan Library, and the woman who asked him the question -- he was very presidential in that speech. But there are times, and I think he would be the first to admit it, when, you know, saying what he thinks is much more important than being a statesman.

Let's just play some of them for all of you.


CHRISTIE: The people who pretend to be serious commentators who have wrote about this are among the most ignorant people I have ever heard in my whole life.

Let me tell you something, I can go back and forth with you as much as you want.

And let me tell you something, after you graduate from law school, you conduct yourself like that in a court room, your rear end is going to be thrown in jail, idiot.

If what you want to do is put on a show and giggle every time I talk, well then I have no interest in answering your question. So, if you'd like to --


BURNETT: As we're giggling watching it.

MARTIN: And --

SALAM: There's a big problem here, which is that Chris Christie's style is very appealing to people like me who grew up in Brooklyn, New York, people from the Northeast who like that kind of ethnic tough guy aspect. The question is, is it going to play in the South and the West with people who find that to be a bullying tone?

MARTIN: Whoa, whoa, whoa!

SALAM: I think it could work, but I think it's not obvious it's going to work. It works with some people but not necessarily everybody.

BURNETT: Roland?

MARTIN: Time out. As a native Texan, we don't mind people who speak truth. I mean, let's just be honest. It's not all about a Northeast thing.

The key here is: are you an authentic politician? Do you speak your mind?

And this is somebody who is established. He will take it to Republicans. He will take it to Democrats. That is appealing to people because frankly people are tired of politicians who keep lying, who keep saying what they think we want to hear versus what we need to hear.

BURNETT: He is genuine.

AVLON: He is, and people are starved for authenticity in politics, Erin. They're also starved for independent leadership that's principled to no holds barred.

Just -- take a look at that poll that came out today. If we really break down the numbers, it's unbelievable, because it's not just 73 percent of New Jerseyians -- 80 percent of independents, 62 percent of Democrats, 69 percent of nonwhites, and 70 percent of women.

I mean, Republicans have to be sitting in a room plotting --

BURNETT: Like the messiah.


AVLON: Unbelievable. That shows a cross-over appeal that kind of independent leadership. Republicans got to be looking at that playbook and ask themselves, I can get some more of that Chris Christie.

BURNETT: All right.

SALAM: Let's see what he looks like after a couple of hundred million dollars of super PAC money goes after him.

BURNETT: Reihan says (INAUDIBLE) bruise anybody. He's going to bruise.

All right. Thanks to all three of you. By the way, Chris Christie's comment to "The Star Ledger" in the state -- yes, you're damn right, I'd be more ready when asked about running for 2016. It looks like he's getting ready.

All right. Ahead, new details about the Sandy Hook shooting. What Adam Lanza was wearing in the shooting spree.

And protests in India over the rape of the woman who died.


BURNETT: New details tonight in the Connecticut school massacre investigation. "The Hartford Courant" reports that gunman Adam Lanza wore earplugs in the shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School in which 26 were killed, including 20 children.

OUTFRONT tonight, reporter Jon Lender, who broke the story for "The Hartford Courant".

And, Jon, thanks for taking the time.

You report that Lanza wore earplugs. Do you know why?

JON LENDER, HARTFORD COURANT: No one knows why. It's just -- we're down in the point of the investigation now where they don't -- they haven't figured out what's happened, but we have these strange details that are left behind by this very strange bone-thin 20-year-old. And one of them is that he went into the school to do this, and he put in these earplugs.

And the investigators don't know why. They have noted it. They were found.

And why would he be wearing earplugs? It makes you think that maybe he -- there's no reason to think he thought he would come out alive and needed to protect his hearing. They think it might be a force of habit from shooting or even the idea maybe that he wanted to muffle the cries of the children.

BURNETT: Now, is it, as you mentioned, I mean, there's possible ways you could imagine why he did this, but if it were something linked to the shooting range, would that show he had got more frequently than we thought or perhaps give some sort of a clue as to his mental state or someone who's sort of an obsessive personality or something -- when I go shooting, I'm going to put these earplugs in?

LENDER: It could be anything. You know, there are just a number of these things that are left behind as puzzles. Just for another example, he kept changing magazines, 30-round magazines, in this military-style weapon that he was using, even though he hadn't even used half the bullets in a magazine.

Now, there's -- he had a lot of these violent death shooting games that he played at home. And we're told that when you play those games, one of the things you do is when you go from one animated building to another or another room, you don't want to be short of ammunition, so you replenish your full supply.

There was some thought, they're testing to see if the gun jammed on him. There was one point at which it jammed once or twice or his shooting paused, and it allowed a few kids, apparently, to get out of one of the rooms in which the murders were committed.

BURNETT: Yes. All right. Well, thank you very much. We appreciate it. As you say, every single detail here is getting intense focus as no one could understand what the motive would have been.

Well, next, protests in India over the gang rape of a woman. Fareed Zakaria calls it India's Arab spring. He comes OUTFRONT.


BURNETT: Our fifth story OUTFRONT: chaos in the court. Five men charged with the brutal rape and murder of a 23-year-old Indian woman appeared in court today. There was a shouting match that erupted because a lawyer stepped forward to represent the accused and he was criticized by his colleagues. And in fact, one of them screamed, I'll quote them, "You will not defend these barbarians."

The five men are charged with rape, murder and kidnapping, in a case which has led to violent protest in India and outrage around the world.

Fareed Zakaria was born in India. He's the host of "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" and he is OUTFRONT tonight.

Fareed, this story has grabbed attention around the world, headlines everywhere. I was just in the Middle East. It's the top story every day. You just came from India, obviously, where it is such a crucial story.

Why has it struck a cord, though, around the world?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: I think, in a way, this is sort of India's Arab Spring because it's not just what happened. It's the fact that people were able to express themselves. That they mobilize. India is a democracy, but sometimes it's hard to mobilize and social media and a newly mobilized middle class has allowed that to happen.

And I think people around the world saw that and could almost join in that outrage because the sense of just how horrible this was and how quickly the information about it spread, it really made me feel like this is a new world because you had protests like this before, but they hadn't spread within India in quite the same way, and they hadn't spread around the world.

You know, there is something about this new technology with the new globalized middle class that's demanding more of government.

BURNETT: And there are some shocking truths here. "The Washington Post" had done a piece on the police issue in India, how there aren't enough women police officers. But they said three quarters of the perpetrators of rapes in India in 2011, reported rapes, which are small fraction of the rapes, are still at large, and the police chief in Delhi, after this horrific rape in which this young woman lost her life, his solution was, quote, "women should not go out late at night," and there was an Indian guru, India media reported that the victim was to blame because she hadn't reached out to her attackers as, quote-unquote, "brothers" and that she should have begged before them to stop.

ZAKARIA: Look, India remains a very patriarchal society. It's an odd country that on the one hand, it had a female prime minister before any European and Western country --

BURNETT: And to the world, we see that as poster child.

ZAKARIA: And then you see that -- but then if you look at the social attitudes within the household, women remain very much, you know, almost the servants of the husbands and things like that. And I think it's very important to remember in these situations that rape is really about power, not about sex. And the ability for people to maintain this kind of power, control over women, is still very much part of India, and what's striking to me is that even though it is a democracy, even though 50 percent of the people who vote are women, it hasn't changed.

BURNETT: Which is amazing and shows the problem goes all the way back to how you raise children from being infants. But, you know, people in the U.S. are shocked by this. And there's a lot of the feeling that this wouldn't happen here.

So, it may amaze people depending on what statistic you look at, the United States is either the top or in the top couple countries in the world for rapes, rapes still underreported in the United States, and in the United States like India, people still blame the victim. I was thinking of the Todd Akin comment, his quote, I'll read it again for those of you who forgot it, "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

ZAKARIA: This is again all about the idea that there's something about this, that's about sex. It isn't. This is about power. This is about violence towards women.


ZAKARIA: Violence towards people who are in general weaker than you. You know, it's very important that people understand that.

In the United States, as you point out, we -- rape is underreported, but it's vastly more underreported in India. So, my guess is that if you were to take the actual numbers, the United States wouldn't be quite as far ahead as it is, but it's shocking that the United States is even, you know, within the top 10.

BURNETT: Right, where you have women who are earning as much as men and women with careers, and more women in school than men. I mean, you have all of these things here and yet you still have that statistic.

In terms of women's rights, the Global Gender Gap Report, India is 105th out of 135 countries. See, that's the gap in economic, good health and education. Why is India lagging so far behind? Especially when you talk about democracy and women are able to vote, which is something, for example, in places like Saudi Arabia, which also ranks low, women don't have this right?

ZAKARIA: Because it makes you realize the struggle for human rights and democracy are not always the same thing. You know, sometimes what you have to do is break cultural attitudes. Democracies aren't very good at that.

Look at us, you know, with some of our attitudes, whether it's slavery or whatever it is you're looking at.


ZAKARIA: It's hard to break those attitudes. In some ways, China did much better even under the communists in forcibly creating this kind of equal opportunity for men and women. In India, this stuff comes out of religion. It comes out of caste. It comes out of culture.

The people who get elected are in some sense traditional leaders. They don't want to overturn these traditions. It's very hard to get, you know, oppressed minorities to be given their due.

BURNETT: Fareed Zakaria, thank you very much.

And be sure to catch a special edition of "GPS" on Sunday, focusing on the president's second term. Fareed gets advice on how the president should handle the challenges he'll be facing over the next four years. It's called "Memo to the President: Roadmap for a Second Term". It airs Sunday night at 8:00 Eastern.

And tomorrow, "Top Chef" host Padma Lakshmi is OUTFRONT. The former model who was born in India and spent a lot of time there, she was a lingerie model there. She had to deal with some issues. She's going to speak out for the first time about the rape in her home country.

And we're moments away from the biggest college football game of the year. Could be the highest rated ever. A preview and an inspiring story OUTFRONT, next.


BURNETT: So in just a couple minutes, the big game begins after weeks and months of games. The big one, the BCS championship is finally here. Notre Dame and Alabama are taking the field. And it's easy to get caught up in the hype surrounding tonight's contest because the experts predict it's going to be the most viewed college football game in American history.

Notre Dame and Alabama football are massive money machines. Each of their football programs generates about $100 million for their school and conference a year. But when you get past the ratings and money, for me, it's about connecting with some of the players' stories. That's why I love about college football, and there are a few inspiring personal stories tonight, but perhaps none as much so as that of Stephon Tuitt. Stephon is a defensive end for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. This is his sophomore season. It's brought him all-American honors and a trip to the championship all while maintaining a full course load. Stephon accomplished all this with a secret desire of reconnecting with his estranged father.

And I'll quote him, he said, "I just wanted to use the attention from the championship game to try to see him, ask him a couple questions. I just wanted to see who he is, who he was and see what he looked like."

Well, sadly, that is not going to happen. His family recently learned that that Stephon's father passed away. But still mourning the father he never knew, Stephon persevered on and off the field. This after all as a kid who walked 10 miles to his first high school football tryout.

Football's images taken some big hit this year and deservedly so, concussions and off field violence have often overshadowed actual play. And that's why it's so refreshing to hear about a player like Stephon Tuitt. Win or lose, we celebrate the young men who rise to the top of sports and do so with personal discipline and integrity and they don't sacrifice their academics. That's really what it's all supposed to be about, not just cheering as a bunch of people injure each other and hurt each other on the field for all of our superficial entertainment.

Thanks so much as always for watching.

"ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts right now.