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Marco Robio Reaches Out to Hispanics; Newtown Attention Exploitative?; Chris Christie: Too Fat for Office?; Obama Calls for Unity at National Prayer Breakfast; CBS Sets Clothing Standards for Grammy Awards; Political Attack Ad Targets Ashley Judd; An American Hero; More Problems for Lance Armstrong

Aired February 7, 2013 - 09:30   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Political buzz is your rapid fire look at the best political topics of the day, three topics, 30 seconds on the clock, playing with us today Anna Navarro, CNN contributor and Republican strategist and John Avlon, CNN contributor and senior political columnist for "Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast." Good morning to both of you.



COSTELLO: First question: Senator Marco Rubio, a "Washington Post" blog calls him the new leader of the Republican party. Rubio checked several boxes, he's from the vote-rich state of Florida, he's young, he's Latino, a fact that will be on full display after next week's State of the Union when Rubio gives the Republican response in English and Spanish. Hey at least we know Rubio's Spanish will be better than Michael Bloomberg's.


MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, (I) NEW YORK: Let me summarize in Spanish for our Spanish speaking New Yorkers. (speaking Spanish)


COSTELLO: It's like Spanish speaker saying, say what? But the question this morning, is Marco Rubio's English/Spanish response enough to make Hispanic voters to fall in love with the Republican party?

NAVARRO: No. And I think Marco Rubio would be the first to tell you there is no silver bullet, and a single speech won't do it. But certainly it's an important symbol and it's an important step and a proud moment for Hispanics to have this happen.

Marco Rubio got picked not because he's a token Hispanic. He got picked because he's probably the most eloquent speaker in politics today. When he speaks about American exceptionalism, when he speaks about freedom, when he speaks about lifting yourself up from very humble roots, yes he appeals to Hispanics, but he also appeals to all Americans and is perfectly situated to give this response on Monday. I assure you, it's not going to be a Bobby Jindal moment.

COSTELLO: Oh God. John?

AVLON: Right at the buzzer. It's a step in the right direction but not sufficient. It does send a sign to the Hispanic community in America which is extraordinarily diverse that the Republican party is interested in reaching out and competing for their vote. That's something Mitt Romney didn't do. But the problem with Republicans outreach to Hispanics is not just tone, it's a matter of policy substance. They're going to have to start addressing that. They've taken some steps. We heard (ph) Cantor backing the Dream Act just this past week, but they're really going to have to follow through more in that direction. It's not about the bunting, it's about the substance of the policy if you really want to reach out to the community.

COSTELLO: All right, on to the second question. The children of Newtown, Connecticut thrust into the national spotlight after the big tragedy, and now they're stars from Saturday Night Live to the super bowl and soon to be featured in a pre-Grammy show on the E! entertainment network. Question, have we crossed the line from paying tribute to the Newtown victims to exploiting the survivors? John?

AVLON: No. I don't think so. I suppose the rendition of "Call me Maybe" is enough of a no non-sequitur that it begs the question. Clearly with the SNL, with the super bowl this is a well-intentioned attempt to honor kids who have been through a horrific experience, to give them something positive to look forward to. That comes from a good place, not remotely exploitative place.


NAVARRO: I think it's entirely up to the parents. Nobody knows better than the parents what's good and bad for these kids. It might be part of a therapeutic process for them. It might be good for them. Certainly this is a nation that wants to remember, that wants to honor those kids that felt that deeply, emotionally. So it comes from a deeply emotional-held belief of honoring the kids, honoring the victims and keeping them in our memory but I think the people that have to police whether it's good or bad, crossing the line or not are the parents of the children.

COSTELLO: Okay, third question, here's a little advice, don't ever, ever question Chris Christie about his weight. A former White House physician said she feared Christie would die in office. Christie told her to shut up. The doctor who wants Christie to run in 2016 didn't back down.


DR. CONNIE MARIANO, FMR. WHITE HOUSE PHYSICIAN: I've always liked him. I've always liked his policies, they way he talked about them. He's very spunky, very feisty. It's not about politics. I look at him as a physician, I'm in private practice. I see many patients every day; I was in clinic all day today. And I have patients who suffer with obesity and you know look at over 30 percent of Americans suffer with obesity. It is a huge problem and it is not a laughing matter.


COSTELLO: So question, is a politician's weight off limits? Anna?

NAVARRO: Nothing is off limits when you're a politician. Look, certainly as somebody who struggled with her weight the entire life, I can tell you it's not fun to have your weight be the butt of jokes or have your weight be the topic of conversation but when you're in the public limelight, when you're in a politician, everything is on the table. Chris Christie has to have a thick skin about this. Certainly Chris Christie knows he's fat. (BUZZER) He has said it and acknowledged it.

COSTELLO: We'll go over to John on that note.

AVLON: Look, of course Chris Christie has a weight problem. He's the first to acknowledge it. Is it a political problem? Maybe, but at the end of the day it has not affected his performance of governor of New Jersey and there's no reason to think it would affect his performance as a candidate for president.

COSTELLO: All right. Anna Navarro, John Avlon, thanks for playing today. We appreciate it.

This morning President Obama speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast, he of course talked about God and prayer, he also talked about the need to come together.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is now our fifth prayer breakfast, and it is always just a wonderful event, but I do worry sometimes that as soon as we leave the prayer breakfast, everything we've been talking about, the whole time at the prayer breakfast, seems to be forgotten on the same day of the prayer breakfast.


I mean, you'd like to think that the shelf life wasn't so short. I go back to the oval office and I start watching the cable news networks and it's like we didn't pray. And so my hope is that humility that that carries over every day, every moment.


COSTELLO: President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast. We'll be right back.



COSTELLO: Okay, that is the always impeccably well dressed Taylor Swift except for not in that video. Swift will be performing at this year's Grammy awards Sunday night on CBS, and that full-length pajama outfit would probably get her bonus points from the censors, because CBS is cracking down on showing too much skin.

You remember J Lo's infamous Versace dress from 2000? That would be a no-go this year. So, what can and can't celebs wear at Sunday night's show? A.J. Hammer is here to explain the rules.

A.J. HAMMER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: It's always fun, Carol, when people at a network try to tell artists what they can and can't wear but CBS reportedly sent out this memo and everybody's going to be showing up Sunday night on the Grammys.

The basic message is cover up. Some of the particulars: buttocks and breasts should be adequately covered. Thong-type costumes are problematic. Bare sides, area under breasts - what the kids call side- boob - also problematic, and people should generally avoid sheer or see-through clothing.

If you're wondering why you have to write this memo to begin with, well you could look back at infamous outfits like that J Lo dress from Versace years ago. Lil' Kim really stretched the boundaries with one of her outfits and look at Lady Gaga, this is from the 2010 Grammys. she came pretty close to crossing the line. Although,I looked through the standards memo and it doesn't specifically mention wearing meat as a violation.

But you can understand why CBS might feel the need to have their standards people write a memo like this. Whether it actually accomplishes what it sets out to now is what we'll be tuning in to see. Do we have the Carrie Underwood dress? Because this is something that I think they would actually find acceptable, Carrie Underwood appearing with a plunging backline but from the front everything completely covered up.

COSTELLO: Oh, come on.

HAMMER: I think, actually think - I think, Carol, this is going to cause people to want to push the boundaries more if they haven't figured out what they're wearing yet.

COSTELLO: I'm just trying to figure out if someone violates the rules, what will CBS do? Will they put little black lines over the offensive area on live television?

HAMMER: I don't think so. I think they're really just trying to set a standard perhaps raise the bar or in their minds raise the bar for what we've seen in the past but again, this is music's biggest night. It is not the Oscars. This is a chance to be as fashion forward as humanly possible for a lot of these artists.

COSTELLO: All right. A.J. Hammer, thanks so much.

HAMMER: You got it.

COSTELLO: So you thought you'd get a break from political attack ads after the election. The political attack ads are back and this time they're targeting Ashley Judd.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Someone from out of state who understands us hillbillies.

ASHLEY JUDD, ACTOR: I don't know a lot of hillbillies who golf, hillbilly, hillbillies.


COSTELLO: But Ashley Judd hasn't even said if she's running for Senate yet.


COSTELLO: Forty-five minutes past the hour. Time to check our "Top Stories".

Governor Chris Christie is telling a former White House physician she needs to shut up about his weight. It's because Dr. Connie Mariano said she was worried that Christie could die in office due to his weight. Christie pointed out she has not even examined him. Mariano says her comments were constructive.

Karl Rove's conservative Super PAC has unleashed an attack ad against the actress Ashley Judd in Kentucky and she hasn't even said if she's going to run for Senate yet.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Someone from out of state who understands us hillbillies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know a lot of hillbillies who golf. Hillbillies, hillbillies, hillbillies --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her own grandmother says she's a Hollywood liberal, but isn't that what we need? Ashley Judd an Obama-following radical Hollywood liberal who is right at home here in Tennessee -- well, I mean Kentucky.


COSTELLO: Wow. Judd's family is from Kentucky but she later moved to Tennessee. The actress is considering a run for senate in Kentucky next year and would go up against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Parts of the northeast could get up to two feet of snow between Friday and Saturday in what's being called an historic storm. Blizzard warnings have been issued in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. You know some of the possible snow totals -- in some places snow could fall at a rate of two to three inches per hour. From the moment that U.S. troops arrived at Combat Outpost Keating in Afghanistan they knew they were at a disadvantage, those troops would become targets in one of the deadliest attacks in the war. The bravery of those troops is told in "THE OUTPOST: AN UNTOLD STORY OF AMERICAN VALOR" by CNN anchor and Chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper.

Jake is in New York to talk about his documentary on a hero from that battle. Good morning, Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. That's right one of the heroes of that battle, former Staff Sergeant Clint Romesha will be awarded the Medal of Honor on Monday at the White House by President Obama. We went to Minot, North Dakota, to talk to Romesha about the award and talk about serving at Combat Outpost Keating.

What you need to understand and our listeners and viewers need to understand, is this camp was put at the bottom of three steep mountains which ultimately were teeming with Taliban fighters, so we talked about that in a special that will air at 10:00 tonight.


TAPPER (voice-over): Combat Outpost Keating was built in 2006. With so many troops and assets deployed to Iraq, those in Afghanistan had to make do. One part of the strategy was to build small outposts as the U.S. pushed into eastern Afghanistan. The location was a trap evident from the moment the Romesha's unit arrived in May 2009.

(on camera): What was your first reaction?

SGT. CLINTON ROMESHA, U.S. ARMY (Ret.): First reaction was I think the same as everybody that stepped foot on that COP is this is a pretty indefensible spot.

PFC CHRIS JONES, U.S. ARMY (Ret.): I thought we were supposed to be on top of a mountain. This is crazy. I mean, that's how I felt, you know. Shooting up? But you just, I was there, you know, I can't be like this is stupid.

TAPPER: This is a part of the world, the Hindu Kush mountain range where you're either on a mountain or in a valley. And in order to be near the local population and near the road so it could be re-supplied Combat Outpost Keating was put at the bottom of three steep mountains.

(voice-over): Soldiers had been fatally attacked there before. In 2007, Private Chris Pfeiffer; in 2008, Camp Commander Captain Rob Yeskas; and near there, a different camp commander, Captain Tom Bostick. As lethal as its position was the outpost's terrain. The camp was named for Lieutenant Ben Keating killed when his truck rolled over the treacherous side of the road leading to the camp.

ROMESHA: I knew it was a bad spot and I knew that previous commanders had expired there but to set there and dig up every, you know, every little detail on it, you know, it just it wasn't healthy for -- for the guys to be -- to exposed to that kind of information.

TAPPER: So your very first day at Combat Outpost Keating, there was an attack and a soldier with the platoon leaving, Shane Scherrer, got a massive head wound. Other guys got sprinkled with shrapnel.

ROMESHA: It also gave you that instant sense of you know we're not over here selling girl scout cookies, guys. You know we're -- we're in a real fight.

Tapper: (voice-over): Romesha and his men knew it was not a question of if there would be a major attack but when.


TAPPER: And Carol that attack finally came on October 3rd, 2009. 53 U.S. troops faced with up to 400 Taliban attacking on that day. And of course former Staff Sergeant Clint Romesha's actions on that day, his valor, his conduct is now -- are now going to result in him getting the Congressional Medal of Honor on Monday.

The special airs tonight at 10:00. And Romesha is an inspiring man. And the story of that camp, a dramatic and inspiring story.

COSTELLO: Oh I can't wait to see it. Jake Tapper, thanks so much for joining us in the NEWSROOM, we appreciate it.

TAPPER: Thank you, Carol.

COSTELLO: We'll be right back.


COSTELLO: "Talk Back" question for you this morning are the Newtown kids being exploited?

This from Ralph, "If they are then it's the parents fault. They could stop it and should."

This from Frank, "Having them on TV keeps them in our heads and lets us see what really matters, children."

From Sean, "Of course, every time there's something we think we can sell, push, or make a buck off, we exploit it. It's an American tradition."

This from Frank -- another Frank, "Unfortunately, they are being used as pawns to promote the liberal agenda of gun control."

And from Sabrina, "Super Bowl -- I thought it was touching to have them singing. But that's all it should have been. Using this awful situation for ratings is ridiculous. The parents should be ashamed of themselves."

Keep the conversation going

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COSTELLO: The price for coming clean could cost Lance Armstrong big bucks. A promotion company is filing a lawsuit today to recover more than $10 million. Joe Carter is here with this morning's Bleacher Report.

JOE CARTER, BLEACHER REPORT: Hi good morning Carol. Yes. SCA promotions the sports insurance company that paid Armstrong millions of dollars in bonus money during his Tour de France title wins wants all that money back plus interest plus legal fees. And on top of that multimillion dollar lawsuit that should be filed today, Armstrong could also be facing federal charges. ABC News says that investigators are looking into charging him with obstruction, intimidation and witness tampering.

Now also in an effort to clean up the sport of cycling, USADA, the anti-doping agency, is giving Armstrong two more weeks to decide if he wants to speak with agency investigators under oath. The original deadline to speak with them was yesterday, Wednesday. Now Armstrong must come clean and tell them everything he knows, if he wants any shot at that lifetime ban being reconsidered.

Well after winning the Super Bowl on Sunday, partying in the streets of Baltimore on Tuesday, Ray Lewis was in Florida with his younger son. Ray Lewis III signed a letter of intent to play football at his dad's alma mater the U.


RAY LEWIS, FORMER NFL PLAYER, UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI PLAYER: He's always been a hurricane at heart. And this is always good, this is always one of the greatest blessings ever for your son to follow in your footsteps, to follow in your alma mater. I think that you know the really exciting part about me is he has his own mind made up about what he wants to do, his own legacy.


CARTER: Now signing day was not so easy for Alex Collins. His mom refused to co-sign his letter of intent because he didn't pick the University of Miami. Now he's considered one of the best high school runningbacks in the country and on national television yesterday he changed his mind and announced he would playing for the University of Arkansas.

But his mom and everybody else thought he would choose The U. So she split mid press conference without signing the papers. She said I'm out of here. Well apparently mom's grand plan did not work. ESPN is reporting that mom will sign the papers so her son can play at Arkansas.

So as it goes, defending champion Alabama, the rich get richer they were the big winner on signing day, they took home the top recruiting class, Ohio State comes in second, Florida rounds up top three. They've got to talk about old miss they had a great showing signing the number one player in all of high school football. Scary moment on the show "The Ultimate Fighter", Uriah Hall kicked Adam Cella in the head knocks the guy out cold. Hall said for a moment he was afraid he might have killed him and he thought he actually would be arrested. Thankfully Cella was not seriously injured at least not in the short term.

You know Carol with all of the focus in the NFL on concussions, mixed martial arts leagues have to be crossing that bridge like the NFL is right now in the very near future.

Of course for all your entertaining sports news go to

You saw the scary moment on Ultimate Fighter, Carol. What did you think of that kick?

COSTELLO: It just -- it was so vicious. And then the celebration afterwards until the other fighter finally realized, oh, I could have killed this guy. It just seems to me something needs to change. Because truly, that was the most horrible violent moment I've seen in sports in a long time.

CARTER: The sport has always been looked at as very violent. You know, not too many years ago we didn't even talk about that sport. Now we talk about it, it's been more accepted. But it is what it is. UFC is vicious -- very vicious. So it kind of like goes hand in hand with the sport I'd say.

COSTELLO: Joe carter, thanks so much.

CARTER: You bet.

COSTELLO: Next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts now.

Happening now in the NEWSROOM, pulling the veil back on the United States secret drone program. Today President Obama gives Congress a classified document used to justify killing Americans overseas.