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CNN NEWSROOM

Baby Survived Crash When On Road; Women Being Cleared For Combat Duty; New Push To Ban Assault Weapons; On Track To Become Top Diplomatic; 2016 Political Buzz Is Building; Hillary Clinton Through The Years

Aired January 24, 2013 - 13:00   ET

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


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: One of the top videos trending around the world today actually shows a car crash in Russia that's going to have you holding your breath. Watch this. You see the car sliding into traffic on ice there. A -- the truck hits a baby and the baby girl is thrown out into oncoming traffic but she actually doesn't get hit. She -- it just hits the vehicle. The man and the woman rush out of the car, grab her off the road. She is actually OK. You see just narrowly missing the child.

I'm Suzanne Malveaux. We are watching as well the Pentagon right now where just in a few minutes the secretary of defense is going to dramatically change the American military landscape. Leon Panetta about to formally announce that he is killing the policy that prevents women from serving in direct combat on the front lines. Here is our CNN's Chris Lawrence.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Army infantry, Marine recon, even special ops. On Thursday, they all open to women for the first time. The Pentagon is eliminating its ban on women in combat but there is a catch.

(on camera): Did you know today's Army would be so different from the one you joined?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

LAWRENCE (voice-over): Staff Sergeant Kelly Rodriguez deployed three times to Iraq and Afghanistan and became one of the first female combat medics to work directly with special operations forces.

KELLY RODRIGUEZ, STAFF SERGEANT, U.S. ARMY MEDIC: It worked out because in future deployments that unit has taken several females down there to do that mission.

LAWRENCE: In recent years, the Navy opened submarine duty to women. In the Marines, female engagement teams walk foot patrols with combat units. But there's a catch to opening the infantry, all jobs won't open immediately and the Pentagon left itself some wiggle room. Sources say the services have to assess each job and unit to see if and when it'd be feasible for women to be integrated without losing combat readiness. A senior defense official says certain special ops or infantry units may ask the secretary for an exemption to the rule and Congress will have to be notified of each job that opens up before it takes effect. It's a stark contrast to how the Pentagon entered the exclusion of gays serving openly or Don't Ask Don't Tell. There was no staggered approach that integrated openly gay troops. A defense official told CNN it's the difference between personal behavior and physical ability. He said, gay troops were already in units whereas women will be going into some for the first time. But many, in uniform and on Capitol Hill, say females on the front lines will hurt, not help, the military.

REP. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: To have women serving in infantry, though, could impair the mission essential task of the units. And that's been proven in study after study just from a matter of -- I mean, it's nature. You know, upper body strength and physical movements and speed and endurance and so forth.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: Chris Lawrence, he's joining us from the Pentagon. So, Chris, is this something that could happen right away for women?

LAWRENCE: No. Basically, the services have until about the middle of May to get back to the secretary with their initial assessment. There's about 50,000 jobs, Suzanne, that are closed right now due to the unit. In other words, women are already attached to these units as medics and logistics, truck drivers, things like that, but the unit is designated a combat unit. Those would seem, from what we're hearing, able to be open fairly quickly. Some of the more complex tasks that they're going to have to dig into are really the front-line infantry troops, the specific jobs, and, of course, special operations as well.

MALVEAUX: And, Chris, one thing that we keep hearing is about whether or not women are physically capable, whether or not there are certain jobs, if they're on the front lines, on the ground in combat, whether or not they're going to be to handle that. How does the Pentagon respond?

LAWRENCE: Yes, it's a good question. And what they are looking for is so-called gender neutrality. But where they're splitting that is the physical fitness test is one thing but being able to do a job, they are saying, is something else. In other words, a senior Marine Corps official basically said, look, if you want to be a tanker in the Marine Corps, you've got to be able to load the tank mount. It weighs 50 pounds. You've got to be able to swivel it around. You've got to do everything possible in a small confined space to do that, no exceptions. So, they're not going to compromise on the basic skills you need to do a job.

Now, he said where, you know, there may be some flexibility is do you need to be able to run X number of miles at exactly this many minutes and seconds? You know, that may be up for debate. What the Marine Corps is going to do is this summer they're going to get 400 men, 400 women and they're going to run through some physical tasks, real jobs that take physical strength. And they're going to see how that comes out and from there, they'll be able to see exactly, you know, where these standards need to be.

MALVEAUX: All right. Chris, we are waiting for the secretary's official announcement happening in about 25 minutes away. Thank you, Chris.

On Capitol Hill, there is a new push to ban assault weapons almost six weeks after the shooting rampage that took place in Newtown, Connecticut. Well, as promised, today, Senator Dianne Feinstein announced new legislation to impose a federal ban on more than 150 military-style guns, including some semi-automatic rifles. The California Democrat was joined by police officers, mayors, other members of Congress, as teachers as well. And on display next to them several weapons that would be banned under the bill, including semi- automatic rifles like the one used in Newtown shooting. Feinstein's measure would also limit ammunition magazines to 10 rounds or less. But she insists that the bill will is not going to affect hunters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: It will not affect hunting or sporting firearms. Instead, the bill protects hunters and sportsmen by protecting 2,200 specifically named weapons used for hunting or sporting purposes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: Feinstein's measure, it's an update to the assault weapons ban that she introduced in 1994 and expired 10 years later. Now, this measure is expected to face some pretty strong opposition in Congress, as well.

And he is a diplomatic trouble shooter, a decorated war veteran, and distinguished senator. Now, John Kerry is on track to become America's next top diplomat. Today, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee which carry chairs began a hearing on his nomination to become secretary of state. Senator Ron Johnson brought up the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya that he and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton fought over yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: And it makes a difference whether or not the American people have the confidence that the president and the administration is being truthful with them. So, I guess my question is, do you agree with that point? I mean, are you willing to work with me or do you basically kind of agree with Hillary Clinton that, oh, that's kind of yesterday's news and let's move on?

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), SECRETARY OF STATE NOMINEE: Well, senator, if you are trying to get some daylight between me and secretary Clinton, that's not going to happen here today on that score. But I think you're not -- I think you are talking past each other. I don't think that --

JOHNSON: We could be.

KERRY: -- I don't think that was the question. I think that if your -- if your question is, should the American people get the truth and does it matter? Hillary Clinton would say yes and I say yes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: Kerry's nomination has support from both Democrats and Republicans. He was introduced by the new Democratic senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren and Republican Senator John McCain.

Well, President Obama's second term barely, barely underway. Already a lot of political buzz about 2016 and the next presidential election. And some of the things happening recently kind of fuelling that buzz. You've got Hillary Clinton's testimony about the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya adding now to the speculation about whether or not she is going to run. Some consider Clinton's five-hour confrontation as a sign of things to come.

And then you got Vice President Joe Biden, he is shaking hands, jogging along the parade route after the inauguration, trying to show -- was he trying to show that he's still pretty fit enough to be president in four years even though he is 70 years old right now?

Well, joining us to talk about all of this, Anna NAVARRO, CNN Contributor, and Republican Strategist Larry Sabato, the Director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, also editor of the new book "2012 Election Barack Obama and The New America.) Larry, I want to start off with you here. You know, a lot of people saying, look, we might be seeing a preview of 2016. Folks I have talked to say Bill Clinton already making sure there are no Barack Obamas around the corner, clearing the way for his wife. Do you see any signs? Can you read the tea leaves?

LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR OF CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Oh, the tea leaves are there. I hope people aren't throwing things at the television sets, Suzanne, with us talking about 2016 a few days after the re-inauguration of President Obama. But, you know, it's going on behind the scenes. And Hillary Clinton, obviously, is a heavy front runner to be the Democratic nominee in 2016 if she wants it. I mean, we really don't know. Sometimes a person leaves a very intense period in public life, goes into private life and then says, I'd be nuts, I'd be insane to get back into the kinds of schedules that she has been keeping. So, we'll have to see. If she doesn't run, it opens the door to Joe Biden and Governor Cuomo of New York and Governor O'Malley of Maryland and former Governor Schweitzer of Montana, and who knows who else?

MALVEAUX: Anna, I want you to see this. You've got to check this out. This is an editorial. It's in the Los Angeles times here. So, you've got Hillary Clinton emerging from these hearings that we saw, the Benghazi hearings, stronger than ever. You see it, it shows -- it actually shows them throwing tomatoes at her, the Republicans, and the captain saying, you guys are going to have to improve your aim before 2016. What do you make of her appearance, her fiery appearance before the Republicans and the way she responded? ANA NAVARRO, NATIONAL CO-CHAIR, JOHN MCCAIN HISPANIC ADVISORY COUNCIL: Listen, she was a pro. I actually was at the hearing yesterday, the Senate Foreign Relations hearing. And she knew who to engage with. She knew what questions to deflect. She did not get into it with McCain. She did get into it with Ron Johnson. But I think the numbers -- the approval ratings you are seeing for Hillary Clinton is because she has transcended politics. The last four years she's been secretary of state, a states woman who has been working and we all see that she's worked herself into the point of exhaustion on behalf of our country. Now, once you come back into the political fray and you are opining on divisive political issues, it's a completely different ball game than what she's had in the last four years.

MALVEAUX: Larry, do you think -- I mean, either one of them, the -- I mean, it's physically demanding. I mean, Anna talks about the travel she does. And I remember covering her as first lady and she was still -- she was traveling the world back then. I mean, she's got everything covered here. But she's going to be 69 years old in 2016. That was the same age of Ronald Reagan when he was elected. If Joe Biden actually were elected, he'd be the oldest newly elected president at 74. Do you think it makes any difference?

SABATO: Well, it's going to be an issue. Look, you can't avoid that issue. They have answers to it and certainly Hillary Clinton would because there is precedent with Ronald Reagan and even Dwight Eisenhower serving at that age. I think it'll be more difficult for Joe Biden, but I wouldn't say it's an insurmountable obstacle in it of itself. It won't help.

MALVEAUX: And I want to go to the Republicans 2016. I wonder if this was a slip during the Benghazi hearing. Senator Rand Paul going after Hillary Clinton. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Had I been president at the time and I found that you did not read the cables from Benghazi, you did not read the cables from Ambassador Stevens, I would have relieved you of your post. I think it is inexcusable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: All right, Ana, what do you think? Is he following in his father's footsteps?

NAVARRO: Oh, I think what you saw yesterday was not a slip of the tongue. I think you saw the making of a 2016 Republican primary political commercial. You know, it was very well received by the Republican base, by the Tea Party. Marco Rubio is on the same Senate Foreign Relations Committee and had a very different tone, had a very different question, and I think he very smartly, Rubio, decided he did not want the narrative to be a 2016 Hillary versus Rubio. He wanted it to be about the substance.

MALVEAUX: All right. Anna, Larry, good to see you both. Larry, sorry I mispronounced your name. I know how to pronounce your name. I hate when people do that to me so thank you.

SABATO: That's OK.

MALVEAUX: Forgive me. I appreciate it.

SABATO: OK.

MALVEAUX: Hillary Clinton might have said good-bye during the Benghazi hearings but as we just discussed, she might say hello again soon. We're going to take a look at Hillary Clinton throughout the years.

And here is what else we are working on this hour.

(voice-over): All this cold weather may have you looking for ways to warm up. But before you try swigging a beer, consider this. Having alcohol in your system can increase your chances of hypothermia. Plus, a new report says binge drinking can cause more liver and brain damage than casual drinking.

And Manti Ta'o, he's speaking out and the women who he thought was Lennay Kekua explains how her identity was stolen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have literally no protection against the advancements of the Internet and social media.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: Then, on a day when Vice President Biden is talking guns and a plan for tighter gun laws is released, we hear from one lawmaker who was taking the matter into her own hands. Her plan to curb violence and why it starts with parents.

This is CNN NEWSROOM and it's happening now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: It was four years ago this week that Hillary Clinton started a journey that would take her a million miles around the globe. She was sworn in as the 67th secretary of state. Randi Kaye takes a look at the highs and the lows of Clinton's life, both professional and personal.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is not the first time Hillary Clinton seemed to say good bye.

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I am determined to leave the State Department and our country safer, stronger and more secure.

KAYE: When you just knew she'd be back to say hello. She launched herself, back in the days of the nerdy circular glasses, as the woman who could take tradition and crack it like a nut. She and Bill Clinton met and fell in love at Yale. Then in 1974, she moved to Arkansas to teach, making partner at the Rose Law Firm five years later. She kept working after her husband was elected governor of Arkansas. She would become the first, first lady to do so.

H. CLINTON: I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had tea.

KAYE: Then came Washington.

H. CLINTON: This health security card will represent a right of every citizen and it will give each of us the security of knowing we will be taken care of when we need help.

KAYE: Her health care initiative came crashing down in 1994. Her high visibility came at a cost. But the superwoman learned to steel herself in the face of repeated controversy. There was the unexplained suicide of White House Council Vince Foster and questions about the Clinton's Whitewater land deal. But the challenges didn't end there.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.

KAYE (on camera): The affair and the House vote after that to impeach her husband threatened to derail team Clinton. But Hillary was nothing if not resilient. She ran for Congress and was elected senator from New York with 56 percent of the vote.

KAYE (voice-over): She became the first, first lady to enter Congress. And in 2007, another first.

H. CLINTON: When people tell me, well, you know, I don't think a woman can be elected president, I say, well, I don't believe that, but we're going to find out.

KAYE: She became Hillary, like Shakira or Cher. It showed independence. It was a hard-fought campaign against Barack Obama, but Hillary never backed down.

H. CLINTON: Shame on you, Barack Obama.

KAYE: Even when campaigning got ugly.

Not long after that, Clinton welled up at the New Hampshire diner and ran away with the primary. Another victory. But in the end, she conceded, wrapping up her historic presidential bid.

H. CLINTON: Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time.

KAYE: But her persistence and passion convinced the man she tried to beat to cast her on the world stage.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In her you will have a secretary of state who has my full confidence.

KAYE: The former first lady and senator from New York would become "madam secretary" in 2009. Yet now a million air miles and 112 countries later, she finds herself in tangled in one final controversy.

H. CLINTON: I'm in charge of the state department, 60,000 plus people all over the world, 275 posts.

KAYE: Testifying about who knew what when in light of the attack on the compound in Benghazi. But if history is any guide, Hillary Clinton may emerge unscathed once again and reinvent herself.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAYE: And, of course, we've all seen her reinvent herself over the years. And for me, Suzanne, this actually goes back 20 years because I started covering her when I was a reporter in Little Rock, Arkansas, back in 1993.

MALVEAUX: Wow.

KAYE: And I watched her go through Whitewater and all the questions about Vince Foster's suicide. And, again, you know, she just never backed down. You just notice how even when the hits keep coming, she gets up, she dusts herself off and she just goes right back at it again.

MALVEAUX: I started covering her pick up to the Monica Lewinsky affair. I was there when they had that iconic photo. You see the image of Chelsea holding both their hands as they leave the South Lawn and hid (ph) in the chopper.

KAYE: Right, on the lawn.

MALVEAUX: I was covering that little vacation of theirs, you know?

KAYE: Yes.

MALVEAUX: When they were sequestered. They did not talk to us at all during that period.

KAYE: (INAUDIBLE) just in time.

MALVEAUX: But, yes, you know, I had a chance to travel with her to Africa and Russia and she's one of those people where I think, you know, the cameras come on and there's definitely a facade. But take the cameras away, very warm, very friendly, almost maternal in a way.

KAYE: Definitely a warmth. Yes, I agree. It's really nice to see.

MALVEAUX: Yes. All right, we'll see what happened in the next four years. 2016, what do you think?

KAYE: Well, --

MALVEAUX: She can't help herself.

KAYE: You know, I think -- I think the thing is, is that she wouldn't want this -- this testifying and being grilled by the senators on Capitol Hill, to be our last impression of her on the national stage. So you have to wonder, will she do something else? But those, you know, close to her have told CNN that she's sort of laughing off all the speculation and this is going to be done on her timetable and she will make this decision, which is true Hillary fashion.

MALVEAUX: Yes. I think she's going to be doing sit-ups, push-ups and reading and I think she's going to be ready for 2016.

KAYE: Relaxing.

MALVEAUX: That's just my -- that's just my prediction.

KAYE: She'll relax for a little bit, though, I think, not that much.

MALVEAUX: Maybe.

KAYE: Yes.

MALVEAUX: Randi, thank you so much.

KAYE: Sure.

MALVEAUX: Excellent perspective.

They were locked away in the home of David Powers, a former adviser to President John F. Kennedy. Well now this collection of rare pictures and memorabilia, it's now going on the auction block next month. The sale marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the nation's 35th president. And Powers had kept these so-called Camelot treasures to himself throughout much of his life. Well now you get to see them. He first started working for Kennedy back in 1946.

Last week he admitted to doping. Well, this week he faces the fallout. Why people reading the best-selling books about cycling, they are now suing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: For years the word yes helped Lance Armstrong win races. But last week, in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, it was that simple word that brought his entire career to a screeching halt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OPRAH WINFREY: Yes or no, did you ever take banned substances to enhance your cycling performance?

LANCE ARMSTRONG, FORMER PROFESSIONAL CYCLIST: Yes.

WINFREY: Yes or no, was one of those banned substances EPO?

ARMSTRONG: Yes.

WINFREY: Did you ever blood dope or use blood transfusions to enhance your cycling performance? ARMSTRONG: Yes.

WINFREY: Did you ever use any other banned substances like testosterone, cortisone or human growth hormone?

ARMSTRONG: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: So the fallout from his doping confession is just the beginning. This week, two people filed a class action lawsuit against him. The lawsuit claims that Armstrong and his publicist lied in his bestseller "It's Not About the Bike" and his book, "Every Second Counts." Now they want their money back. The suit did not specify how much they're seeking, but it does ask Armstrong to cover damages, attorney's fees and expenses and costs. Could be just the first of many lawsuits for Armstrong.

And Manti Te'o says he lied. The star linebacker for Notre Dame told ABC's Katie Couric that he was the victim of a hoax, but he does admit that he continued the story of his girlfriend's death even after someone posing as her called him just last month.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MANTI TE'O, NOTRE DAME LINEBACKER: My story, I felt, was a guy who, in times of hardship and in times of trial, really, you know, held strong to his faith, held strong to his family. And I felt that that was my story.

KATIE COURIC, HOST, ABC'S "KATIE": Even if that hardship was perhaps exaggerated?

TE'O: No. It was -- what I went through was real. You know, the feelings, the pain, the sorrow, that was all real.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: Now the woman whose picture was used in the online hoax, well she has come forward. Diane O'Meara told our Anderson Cooper that she never met Te'o and never knew her photo was actually being used in the scam.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: How does that feel, I mean, emotionally?

DIANA O'MEARA, PHOTO WAS USED IN TE'O HOAX: It's -- it's unnerving. I mean it's very frustrating. And even still when I see the photos and when I see how they've been exposed all over the media, it's hard. But, I mean, the fact is, this doesn't just happen to me.

COOPER: Sure.

O'MEARA: You know, granted this is a very unique situation that involves mass media, but this happens every day. COOPER: It happens to people all the --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: So now that Manti Te'o has spoken, are there any new insights about the hoax? Well, our Wolf Blitzer, he's going to look up what's next 4:00 p.m. in "The Situation Room." And then later tonight, Manti Te'o's former coach at Notre Dame, he's going to be speaking out as well. That's at 7:00 p.m. on "Erin Burnett OutFront."

And you are looking at Mt. Washington, New Hampshire. That is where the temperature is negative 22 degrees. The wind is strong enough to hold up this guy.

And if all this cold weather has you looking for ways to warm up, you might think twice before chugging a beer. Having alcohol in your system can actually increase your risk of hypothermia. We'll explain why.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)