Return to Transcripts main page


Cantor Tries To Lay Out GOP's New Vision; Where Does Ethan Go From Here? Tough Times For Car Owners In L.A.; To Kill Or Not To Kill, According To The President

Aired February 5, 2013 - 15:30   ET



BROKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: House majority leader Eric Cantor seeking to rebrand the Republican party. Today, he gave what was billed as this major policy speech.

Here he is at the American Enterprise Institute. It was an effort to lay out a new vision for the GOP. Here is part of what he said.


REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: It is no secret that there are more than 11 million people here illegally, many of whom have become part of the fabric of our country. They, like us, have families and dreams.

While we are a nation that allows anyone to start anew, we are also a nation of laws, and that's what makes tackling the issue of immigration reform so difficult.

In looking to solve this problem soon, we have got to balance respect for the rule of law and respect for those waiting to enter this country legally, with care for the people and families, most of whom just want to make a better life and contribute to America.


BALDWIN: Our chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash there, actually, talked to the number two Republican in the House today.

And, so Dana, I understand your conversation pivoted to gun control. What did he say?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very interesting. The whole premise of the speech he gave today was to sort of effectively soften the Republican image.

They understand that in the last election from Mitt Romney on down they did very well with white men and that's about it when it comes to demographics.

They have been trying to -- it is very clear in listening to his speech today and the conversation I had with him, he was trying to have a more compassionate tone and tenor.

Also, when it comes to issues, you see a little bit of shift, but you have to really dig deep. On the issue of guns, of course, what we have been reporting is that the most likely piece of legislation to pass, if anything, would be to strengthen background checks.

I asked him about that, and he seemed to give at least a little bit on that. Listen.


CANTOR: My heart as a parent goes out to those grieving families in Connecticut. And I want to make sure that we do something that can move us towards that never happening again.

BASH: Is background checks, for example, something you could support?

CANTOR: I'll tell you, Dana. You know, in Virginia, Virginia Tech had a terrible incident like this several years ago, and there was a move in Virginia after that to try and address the mental health issue and making sure that information as far as that is concerned was shared with the background databases.

And Virginia actually is leading in terms of trying to get that information into the --

BASH: So it sounds like you in favor of beefing up background checks on a federal level.

CANTOR: I am for making sure that we increase the quality of information in the database that is in existence already.


BALDWIN: So was that a yes, Dana?

BASH: That's why I said, "moved a little bit," because he's talking about effectually enforcement.

We have been reporting so much about this. Big part of the problem is only a handful, maybe a little bit more of states, actually contributed information to the federal database he's talking about, making sure that more states contribute like his own state of Virginia does.

But when the president is talking about and what Democrats and some Republicans are talking about as well is much more than that, universal background checks is, you know, background checks at gun shows, private sales and so forth, he didn't go that far.

BALDWIN: I was talking to a Republican just this morning, Senator Dean Heller. I asked him the same thing about background checks and he said, yes, he said he could get behind that as well.

Dana Bash, thank you so much, great interview by the way. BALDWIN: For the past seven days, we have been watching this hostage standoff at this bunker in Alabama, hoping for the best. Many people fearing the worst.

Now, it is over. The captor, 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes, is dead. His hostage, five-year-old Ethan, is free.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was Mr. Dykes armed when law enforcement went into that bunker?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was the little boy threatened at all when you guys entered?

OLSON: Yes. We had reason to believe. That's why we went in to, you know, to save the child.

He's receiving medical treatment, you know, and everything is OK.

I'm a father. A lot of these men and women that's been sacrificing tireless hours, they're parents as well. You know, it's a relief for us to be able to reunite a mother with her child.


BALDWIN: CNN's Martin Savidge is reporting on the story for us from the ground in Dale County, Alabama.

Also, a psychologist, Wendy Walsh standing by. I want to talk about where this five-year-old, soon to be six, goes from here.

But, Martin, we're hearing the military, the department of defense playing a role, even the defense secretary got involved. Tell me more.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This shows how this sort of really climbed up the chain of command, a concern for a five-year-old little boy buried in a bunker underground in Alabama.

Leon Panetta, the secretary of defense, signed off on an OK of the use of some specific equipment, very sensitive stuff that's been used overseas to try to detect IEDs, improvised explosive devices.

That would have meant there were soldiers on site or nearby. Not involved in the takedown, we should point that out.

Other stuff used, cameras able to peer into the bunker so that authorities could not only hear, but could see the demeanor and that was important because in the last 24 hours, FBI agents said they did see the demeanor of Dykes begin to deteriorate and that's, of course, what forced their move.

They won't say much else about the entry because, they say, it worked so well they'll probably use it again in the future.

We do know flash-bangs were used, that gents dropped through a hatch in the roof, that they were able to subdue -- that is kill -- the gunman, but not harm in any way little Ethan.


BALDWIN: And, little Ethan, happy birthday to him tomorrow. How is he doing?

SAVIDGE: You know, every account we've heard from authorities is that he is doing great actually, considering the terrible ordeal that he's been through.

He's not only watched the deaths of at least two men, the school bus driver that began the ordeal and the death of the gunman that ended it, but that, on top of that, he's underground and held away from his family, the terror he's been through.

But they said, last night at the hospital, he was running around. He was laughing. He was coloring. He was playing games. He took like sticky notes and he was slapping them on people as they came into the room.

So, clearly, that is one very happy little boy, and his family, of course, they just must be through the roof to have him back safe and sound.

They're all united, still at the hospital, still being checked out.

BALDWIN: Wendy, on Martin's final point, it sounds like this five-year-old is doing great, but I just can't help but think about these very precious, I'm sure, hours and days here for him, for his family, trying to make sure that he can go back to life as normal, as normal as possible.

How do they do that moving forward?

WENDY WALSH, PSYCHOLOGIST & HUMAN BEHAVIOR EXPERT: OK, well, no matter what, he's physically OK, but he's undergone some major emotional trauma.

He has, you know, witnessed the murder of two people in front of him. He's been holed up in a bunker separated from his family.

And this is a special needs child too, has Asperger's syndrome, something I know a bit about, because my daughter is in the same diagnosis.

I will say it is going to take time. It is better to talk about it. People think, maybe he'll forget it. That's not actually good because when you start to forget some traumatic events they get stored in your body as feelings that crop up at strange times in your life.

It is better to process it, get some therapy. I hope the family does take out of the media limelight because that won't necessarily be helpful. I hope the mom is able to contain herself because that's important.

BALDWIN: It is interesting you point out forgetting.

I was talking to a young woman who absolutely has blank spots now in her childhood because she was kidnapped and there are so many parts about her life she doesn't remember.

But back to your point about Asperger's, how does that help or hurt Ethan moving forward?

WALSH: I, as a mother, watched the news unfold very carefully and was quite connected to it.

One piece of Asperger's is that these kids sometimes don't have what is called a theory of mind, which means they can't imagine or have compassion or empathy for what the other person might be experiencing.

As you know, when we cover the kidnapping stories, one's psychological survival method is to sort of figure out what the captor needs and play the game properly.

But this kid could conceivably have taken a wild, crazy tantrum at any moment because, you know, he doesn't think in terms of consequences, so I'm wondering what kind of medication they dropped down that tube.

I know he was on ADHD medication. I'm wondering if they might have gotten permission from the parents to drop a sedative or something.

BALDWIN: What about -- just moving past the family and Ethan, what about Dykes?

We know he's gone, but a lot of talk about him being a survivalist.

Can you just -- somebody who is very anti-government, anti- a lot of things. Take me in the mindset of someone who describes and subscribes to this culture of fear.

WALSH: Yes, it is a culture of fear, but it is a personal paranoia. It's an anti-social personality disorder where if you just think of the meaning anti-, "against," social, "society."

They are very fearful that they're being attacked and that everybody is out to get them at all times. He may even have had some post-traumatic stress disorder from his time in Vietnam.

We don't know exactly what all the contributing factors were, but definitely he was living a very paranoid lifestyle.

BALDWIN: Wendy Walsh, my thanks to you.

Martin Savidge, great reporting in Alabama.

Tonight, John Walsh actually joins Anderson Cooper to share his experience on coping with trauma. That is tonight, 8:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN.


BALDWIN: Did you know that for every $100 you make, about four bucks goes right into your gas tank. That is a huge chunk of your income.

The Energy Department says the average household spends nearly $3,000 every year on gasoline. It is getting worse, they say.

Gas prices have spiked dramatically in the last couple of weeks to about $3.50 a gallon. And CNN's Paul Vercammen, Paul, we stick you in L.A. because the prices there are always so insane.

Right now gas is over $5. No one walks in L.A. So tough to afford a car right now.


And, indeed, Brooke, this will insult your eyes as we show you this, the average here in California is $4.93.

You see at this station, in downtown L.A., which really lacks gas stations, little competition, over $5.

And we did catch up with one driver who had no choice but to pay the price. Let's hear from her.


TAMIKA GIVENS, DRIVER: It is just ridiculous. $5 a gallon is, I mean, it is ridiculous. And it is high like this in downtown L.A. for whatever reason.


VERCAMMEN: Part of the reason is that oil prices are now higher, oil prices, the biggest component of gas prices.

Also at play in California, the regularly scheduled maintenance of the refineries.

They switch from the winter blend to summer blend, which, by the way, is more expensive to make because it has all the smog-fighting ingredients.

One more factor here in California, you might have heard, we have the second worst gas tax in the nation at 67 cents a gallon.

Only New York state is worse at 69 cents. We get hammered with the taxes here in California, Brooke.

BALDWIN: What are you doing, Paul? Biking to work? Is there a CNN bike you can borrow?

VERCAMMEN: Would love to.

BALDWIN: Paul Vercammen, thank you. With those prices, wow. Those are the averages.

The protocol here on U.S. drones, who to kill, who to spare, a leaked document raises some serious questions about the checks and balances over drones.


BALDWIN: A leaked document shows just how much power the president has and how little information the president needs to order a drone against an American.

A Department of Justice white paper has just come out. It reveals when the United States can use lethal force against an American linked to al Qaeda.

Now, critics say the scariest aspect of this 16-page document is its lack of detail.

For some time, multiple lawmakers have been calling for the release of material detailing what guidance the president uses to call for a drone strike.

The most high-profile instance is the death of Anwar al-Awlaki, an al Qaeda leader, also an American, who was killed in a drone strike back in 2011 in Yemen.

His father is suing multiple U.S. officials for not only the death of his son, also his grandson, Abdulrahman, killed in a separate drone attack in Yemen.


NASSER AL-AWLAKI, FATHER OF ANWAR AL-AWLAKI: I don't necessarily agree with some of what they said against the United States, but does that mean they should kill him, you know, outside the law?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As painful as it was for you to see your son killed, did you in the back of your mind expect that to happen?

AL-AWLAKI: Anwar it was expected because he was under target of killing, but how in the world they would go and kill Abdulrahman, a small boy, U.S. citizen from Denver, Colorado.


BALDWIN: Talked to Tom Junod today of this very issue of drones. He was the author of this piece in "Esquire" in July.


TOM JUNOD, WRITER-AT-LARGE, "ESQUIRE" MAGAZINE: This is the sound of the administration speaking to itself.

When the administration speaks to itself, it gives itself even more power than I think than anybody thought.

It's sort of a hypothetical situation that describes, but it keeps on describing an informed high level executive who can make these decisions.

And it's amazing how much power this white paper gives that informed high level executive.

It even really gives him power to decide whether the due process of the person that he's targeting is being violated or not.


BALDWIN: The document was provided to select members of Congress last year, lawmakers on the Senate intelligence and judiciary committees.

After appearing on Letterman last night, Chris Christie answered questions on his weight and his health.

We will pass along what he is now telling his critics.


BALDWIN: After appearing on Letterman last night, moments ago New Jersey Governor Chris Christie answering some questions about his weight, about his health.

Here is what he told critics moments ago.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) Is there any plan on your part to start actually --

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: There's always a plan. There is a -- listen.

Listen, Christine. I'm absolutely -- this question is not a joking answer. It is serious, OK?

For folks who have struggles with their weight, if you talk to anybody in the room who struggles with their weight, what they will tell you is that every week, every month, every year, there's a plan. There's a plan.

And, so, the idea that somehow, you know, I don't care about this -- of course, I care about it. And I'm making the best effort I can. And sometimes I'm successful and other times I'm not.

Sometimes periods of great success are followed by periods of great failure and so, you know, that's just the way it's worked for me for probably the last 30 years of my life. I know people have concerns, but, as I said to David last night on the show, you know, so far up to 50-years-old I've been remarkably healthy and, you know, my doctor continues to warn me that my luck is going to run out relatively soon, so, believe me, it's something that I'm very conscious of.

But in terms of people in the state being concerned about whether or not it prevents me from being able to do my job effectively, I think they've seen the results of that.

I mean, my life is significantly less stressful today than it was, you know, 90 days ago, right, so -- so be assured -- be assured there is a plan. Whether it will be successful or not, you'll all be able to hear.


BALDWIN: You heard the applause. Ninety days ago was Superstorm Sandy. He was on a tour. That was Union, New Jersey. He was on a tour with Sandy victims and that was when he was asked by a reporter about weight.

Now, actor Robin Williams apparently getting a new job. Details, next.


BALDWIN: Who didn't love a little classic "Mork and Mindy?" Think about when that was from.

So, now, great news if you're a Robin Williams fan. He returns to the small screen, set to star in a new CBS sitcom pilot. It's called "Crazy Ones." It's about a father-and-daughter relationship, so keep an eye out for that later this year.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being with me today.

Let's go to Washington. "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer begins now.

WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Brooke, thanks very much.