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Newtown Kids in the Spotlight; Marco Rubio to Deliver Republican Response to SOTU; Should Christie be Shamed Into Losing Weight?; Brennan Faces Hearing Today

Aired February 7, 2013 - 10:30   ET


AMY KREMER, CHAIRWOMAN, TEA PARTY EXPRESS: I mean, everybody grieves differently. Everybody grieves differently and I'm sure that some people want this all to you know fade into the background, so that they can grieve. Because it wasn't that long ago, and it's difficult for everyone.

I mean it breaks my heart, you know and I remember the day it happened. But I just -- I think to continuously push these kids out there, it's wrong. It's wrong.

PETE DOMINICK, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: But yes, but -- but I disagree with all of you. I mean we are -- I think Amy is right about it, it says something about our culture and the demand for it. But were you upset, were you bothered by seeing those girls, those kids sing at the Super Bowl? I mean --


DOMINICK: -- listen, if they were my kids, if one of my kids were one of those kids killed on that day, I would want America to never forget, never forget. That's a phrase we use in reference to the holocaust. That we use in reference to 9/11 and I lost my child I wouldn't want America to forget about it. And I would want America to try to find, our society to try to find solutions to these problems, compromises that maybe in the next shooting, maybe -- maybe ten people die but maybe an 11th person lived. Maybe that's your son, your daughter because of a background check or magazine --


JOHNSON: But kids singing at the Super Bowl is not going to that Pete.

KREMER: Right.

JOHNSON: I mean, this is something needs to be changed. I'll be honest with you, if a member of Congress --


DOMINICK: It makes you feel good. No, no, it makes feel you good.

JOHNSON: -- if a member of Congress gets shot in the head and we didn't get changes in policy, I really don't think a bunch of kids singing -- look, if they are going to sing Janey's got a gun, maybe. But they are not even a song that have to do with gun violence that's the problem.

DOMINICK: But Jason, you're right. But you are right. That after Gabby Giffords shooting where nine others died and after the Virginia Tech shooting, but this is different.

And you're right, I don't think that those kids singing at the Super Bowl is going to change anything. But you know what it does? It keeps it in our consciousness, it reminds us of what happened. What we do too easily, is we forget the bad things.

Only one percent of America's families are fighting in these wars. And so nobody thinks about the veterans. I do a segment every week on the veterans and just to make sure everybody's reminded --


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: But -- but at some point, but at some point Pete, you have to stop being emotional about it. And try to talk about it logically.


COSTELLO: But we are not. We're talking about it --


DOMINICK: Sure, we are.

COSTELLO: -- in a circular fashion. Like there is one side and the other side. But there is -- do you see any compromise, Amy?

KREMER: No. And the thing is, you know what, you know how kids are, they want to be part of what all of their friends are in. And maybe the parents don't want them there to be part of this. But then they feel the pressure, because all of the other kids are going. You don't know what it's doing to the children. I mean, I don't need to see those children on my TV over and over again to be reminded about this.

DOMINICK: What it's doing to the child? Oh my gosh, what it's doing to the child what child is going to grow up and said, oh, I was ashamed that I sang at the Super Bowl. That's a pretty cool thing to be able to say.

COSTELLO: OK, we're going to have, we're going to have -- I wish we could continue because this great. We've going to have go on to our next "Talk Back" question: Is Marco Rubio's English/Spanish response to President Obama's State of the Union enough to make Hispanic voters fall in love with the Republican Party? Please join the conversation.


COSTELLO: A "Washington Post" blog calls him the new leader of the Republican Party. He checked several boxes. He's from the vote rich state of Florida, he's young, he knows hip hop and he's Latino, that fact that it will be on full display after next week's State of the Union.

We're talking about Marco Rubio. He's going to give 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, NEW YORK: Let me summarize in Spanish for our Spanish speaking New Yorkers.



COSTELLO: Adios, Mayor Bloomberg. The question for you: Is Marco Rubio's English/Spanish response enough to make Hispanic voters fall in love with the Republican Party? or tweet me @CarolCNN.

Also here to talk about Rubio, Pete Dominick, Jason Johnson and Amy Kremer. Welcome to all of you once again.

JOHNSON: Good morning.

KREMER: We're happy to be here.

COSTELLO: OK, so my first question to you, Jason, you know Marco Rubio is going to speak Spanish, but it seems kind of patronizing in a way.

JOHNSON: Look and first off doing the response to the State of the Union, it's like the career kiss of death. You know it's like being on the cover of Madden, it's like being an extra member of Destiny's Child, it's never going to get you anywhere. So I don't think that's really going to help him be the leader of the party.

And honestly it's treating Latino voters like they are stupid. They remember how the Republican Party has behaved about immigration over the last 30 years. So just because he gives a speech in Spanish is not going to magically change things just like the Republicans having Chaka Khan at their convention in 2004 didn't get black voters.

COSTELLO: Well, Amy, conservatives, do they like Marco Rubio. They did love Marco Rubio.

KREMER: Yes. And I think it's a tremendous opportunity for us. I mean, he is as conservative. He beat who is now a Democrat, Charlie Crist, in 2010. And so he's a conservative -- I mean, he's Tea Party and you know he can reach those voters, to explain why the Republican vision is good. Why we need to shrink government.

And -- and grow our economy and create a pro growth environment. It's an opportunity for all Americans to be in the middle class. And so yes, I think it's absolutely a great opportunity for Marco Rubio to go out there and do that.

COSTELLO: And Pete, you have to admit, he's talked about immigration reform, something many Republicans say the country needs right now.

DOMINICK: Marco Rubio, I think, really wants to make a difference. He really wants to usher through comprehensive immigration reform and he and other Republican senators and Democratic senators met a couple of weeks ago and gave an announcement about this.

But you know unfortunately, there are so many extremists within the House Republicans it's probably going to be very hard to get done. I think in the end it's a stunt, it's stooge, it's a -- it's -- it's phony. And Hispanic voters are going to see right through that. If you think giving a speech in Spanish as a reaction to the President is going to pick off a few -- you are wrong. I mean, there's a lot more to it than that.

And by the way I would ask Amy, I mean, English only is part of the Republican platform. They want English only. Can you imagine if a Democrat gave any kind of a speech, a response, also in Spanish? The right would be outraged by it.


KREMER: Well I mean honestly, Pete. You know I have to disagree with you. Because we all know the Republican Party has a problem where they need to reach out to Hispanics and African-Americans. And -- and --

COSTELLO: But part of the -- it's part of the immigration plan that English, that immigrants in this country have to learn English.

KREMER: Well -- and -- and to -- but the Republican Party needs to explain itself better. They have a branding problem. And I think that it's great that Marco Rubio is going out there and doing that. It shows that --

DOMINICK: They haven't -- you know let's be clear though. It's not a branding problem. Let's cut through it all Amy, it's an intolerance problem. It's an intolerance problem and it's ok.

KREMER: I disagree with you. I disagree with you.

DOMINICK: No, it's all right to be, it's part of -- it's part of living in America. I'm intolerant on many issues, I'm not going to act like I'm not. But they do have -- they do have that -- I mean Colin Powell said it very, very, very eloquently a couple weeks ago.


KREMER: No I totally disagree.

COSTELLO: Yes, but in fairness to the Republican Party, this is just a start, isn't it? This is a start.

JOHNSON: But it's a start, but it's a disingenuous start. You can't magically get people to just change their mind because you suddenly said we lost and now I want to be your friend. I mean, a lot of African-American voters didn't continue to vote Republican in the '80s because they didn't trust the Democrats in the 1960s. This is going to take a generation. So it's nice that the Republican Party is starting --



JOHNSON: -- but this is not going to change by 2016. It's not going to change a bit.

KREMER: Well, I mean, the thing is we just elected a great new Senator Ted Cruz from Texas I mean, who is of Cuban descent. You know, I mean we are not -- I have to disagree with you Pete, I mean this intolerance thing, yes maybe there are some people that are intolerant. But you can't throw that label across all of us. And I'm thinking --


JOHNSON: But it's --

DOMINICK: And I'm not. Hold on.

JOHNSON: It's not enough people --


KREMER: Marco Rubio, I mean it's not like you know he is coming from -- I don't know, some elitist --

JOHNSON: But that -- but that's not the issue. The issue is speaking to --


COSTELLO: We're going to have to argue about this later off because I've got to take a commercial break. And we have to go on to our next "Talk Back" topic: Should Governor Chris Christie be publicly shamed into losing weight?" or tweet me @CarolCNN.

We'll be right back.


COSTELLO: We'll continue the "Talk Back" in just a minute, but first a quick check of today's "Top Stories".

A disturbing story out of Kansas City, Missouri, a teenager has been removed from his home after he was found handcuffed to a pole in his family's basement. He told police he'd been there for four months. The teenager's father, stepmother and older brother being questioned now by police. John Brennan, the President's pick for CIA director, will face a tough confirmation hearing this afternoon. Lawmakers on both sides are upset about a program that was once overseen by Brennan; a program that backed the use of drones to kill Americans overseas.

Earlier this morning President Obama spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast. He shared a hope that both parties will remember and carry on the lessons of past leaders.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the midst of all of these debates, we must keep that same humility that Dr. King and Lincoln, Washington and all our great leaders understood is at the core of true leadership. In a democracy as big and as diverse as ours, we will encounter every opinion.


COSTELLO: The President also joked that sometimes after the breakfast it feels like they never even prayed.

To the Great Lakes, it hit record low water levels. Detroit officials say Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are at their lowest levels since recordkeeping began in 1918. Experts blame lower than average snowfalls plus last year's hot and dry summer. The low water levels could also affect shipping and fish populations.


COSTELLO: There's no doubt about it New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is looming large both in terms of his size and his popularity. In fact in a poll taken just last month it shows nearly three-quarters of voters in New Jersey approve of his job as governor. But then there's Christie's size.


DAVID LETTERMAN, TALK SHOW HOST: And what about your blood sugar?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Blood sugar, also normal.

LETTERMAN: Also normal.


LETTERMAN: So you --

CHRISTIE: I'm like -- I'm basically the healthiest fat guy you've ever seen in your life.


COSTELLO: That brings us to our "Talk Back" question: Should Chris Christie be publicly shamed into losing weight? Christie has a message for former White House doctor Connie Mariano. He told her to shut up and he called the good doctor a hack, because she fears Christie will die in office.


CHRISTIE: My children saw that last night. And she sat there on TV and said I'm afraid he's going to die in office. I have four children between 9 and 19. My children -- My 12-year-old son comes to me last night and said "Dad, are you going to die?" I mean, come on. This is irresponsible stuff.


COSTELLO: Christie then shared his vital statistics but Dr. Mariano, she did not back down.


DR. CONNIE MARIANO, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PHYSICIAN: You know, those may be his numbers, that's great. I congratulate him if those are his numbers. But when you see somebody, you don't have to be a doctor to look at him and realize that he has a problem with weight.


COSTELLO: Still public shaming especially over your weight, never feels good.

With me now to talk about this Pete Dominick, Jason Johnson and Amy Kremer. Pete, let's start with you. Christie actually started the conversation, didn't he on David Letterman's show?

DOMINICK: Yes. But he is showing how good he is at self deprecating. That's an appealing characteristic in anybody much less a politician. I think that doctor is way out of line.

But I was a personal trainer for seven years, so I understand, you know, intimately how difficult it is to lose weight. And it could be anything from a thyroid issue to obviously genetics, I have genetic hair loss but the metabolism of a baby gazelle, so I'm lucky there.

But on the other hand -- on the other hand, Chris Christie is a role model of sorts, you know. So in many ways, he could do better. It would be great to see him on a treadmill on TV versus eating a doughnut, perhaps. I can see it a lot of different ways. But I think that Americans really struggle with this, we have a really big obesity epidemic -- sorry for the double entendre. And there is something we need to do that especially because of the way it contributes to health care costs.

COSTELLO: Yes. But does a politician have to be a role model in every sense?

DOMINICK: No. But look at President Obama. I rest my case.

COSTELLO: I don't know what that meant.

KREMER: But you know what, I battled my weight my whole life. Sure as I get off here today people will be attacking me on Twitter over my weight. You know, it's like Pete said you don't know what's going on. He could have a thyroid problem. I think it's off limits.

Yes, he's a role model and maybe it would be good to see him lose weight but it is hard. It is very hard and I don't think he should be attacked.

DOMINICK: And by the way, Amy -- you're a role model, too. Amy's a role model too, I disagree with everything on her but I know what she did with her life. I know she raised three kids, she spent time working while raising those kids. Now she's a leader in her political movement. I have great respect for that. That's what we need to see -- character, actual character.

JOHNSON: Being fat doesn't mean he doesn't have character. And like I said, as somebody who spent an abusive hour with my trainer before coming here I can talk about how difficult it is to maintain things.

But here's the thing. The fact that we are talking about this, that's the problem. Not just because we are a judgmental society, because we are. We don't like voting for people who aren't pretty. We don't like voting for people who have facial hair. We don't like voting for women who are older. We are a sexist terrible society -- blah, blah, blah.

But the fact of the matter is unless he loses his weight we're going to be talking about this and not about his policies. So if I were Chris Christie I would be challenging Michelle Obama to push ups. I would be running laps around Cory Booker. I would be getting this off the table so that people can focus on his policies and not his weight size.

COSTELLO: Ok. I would posture this. There are many prejudices when you see a person who is obese. You don't listen to them as much. Supposedly --


COSTELLO: Right. But Chris Christie is disproving all of those things about people who are overweight. And isn't that a good thing?

KREMER: And you know what, at the end of the day, if he's comfortable with himself, then that is really what matters. You have to be comfortable with yourself and in your own skin. It is not like he doesn't know he has a weight problem. I think it's actually very good that he is willing to, I mean laugh about it and joke about it. I think that's good. I think that instead of going and crying about it behind closed doors I think it's good that he is comfortable with himself, and that says a lot.

JOHNSON: We don't care if somebody is comfortable we care if somebody is fit. Look, Bill Clinton had to lose weight, Mike Huckabee lost weight, Barack Obama stopped smoking. That's why you saw him chewing a nicorette gum during the inauguration.

You know, there are physical things that you have to do, when you are running for president in order to present an image.


JOHNSON: And unfortunately Chris Christie has to fix this problem. Yes, it's judgmental, the world is not fair. He needs to do something about it very soon.

DOMINICK: I think it's going to hold him back.

COSTELLO: Yes, I think it's going to hold him back, too because you want to know that your president is going to survive four years.

DOMINICK: Remember, Carol, when we talked about John McCain's age. I mean that came up. It was a realistic concern for people. Ronald Reagan, obviously. But yes, I think this is going to hold Chris Christie back if he does have further ambitions to be President of the United States. And I think we all know that he does.

But it is out of line for I think someone like that doctor to diagnose. We have a lot of these television shows and radio shows alike that diagnose people based on the way that they look. It's irresponsible and doctors that know better wouldn't do that kind of thing, you know.

But Chris Christie, again, I think he's a role model and I think he could do a lot. He doesn't have to. But I think he could do a lot to show people how hard he is trying to lose weight. But I also understand how much of a struggle it is, it is really, really difficult emotionally and obviously physically.

KREMER: He was elected governor though. I mean would you have thought he would have been elected Governor?

JOHNSON: It's perfectly fine to be governor. But being governor is different from -- look, you are running against -- you're running against a president who was in office, who used to come out of the water like Bo Derek in Hawaii, ok. That's what Americans want to see right now.

And if Chris Christie doesn't fix it, it's going to end up being a problem.


DOMINICK: He's the governor.

JOHNSON: But the image matters.

COSTELLO: This is the thing -- it's working against Hillary Clinton whose age might matter.

JOHNSON: Right. Oh right. Because


COSTELLO: So what do you choose? JOHNSON: Hillary Clinton is more qualified. She ends up winning. If that's what it comes down to.

DOMINICK: If this were a woman, it would be a lot worse. We'd be a lot more offended by that. But you make the point about him being a governor, there's only 50 governors in this country. And this guy is probably working 20 hours a day. I'm not make examining excuses for people not exercising but a lot of us like Amy and I who have kids, it's sometimes really hard to find time to exercise and eat right, when you want to be more responsible and take care of your kids and take care of the rest of your life. He's the governor of New Jersey; he's a pretty busy guy.

KREMER: Pete, I only have one child. But I just wanted to clarify that. I was going to say --

DOMINICK: Amy has 15 kids and lives in a shoe.


KREMER: Right she's enough girl for everybody.

I was going to echo actually what Pete said about we wouldn't be having this conversation about a woman on TV. I mean, we would not be. So I think that says a lot.

COSTELLO: There were many horrible things said about Hillary Clinton.

JOHNSON: Exactly.

COSTELLO: I have to wrap this up. Pete Dominick, Jason Johnson, Amy Kremer. Many thanks for making the debut of the expanded "Talk Back" a fabulous success.

We're going to read your responses to today's "Talk Back" questions next.


COSTELLO: Now your responses to our "Talk Back" questions. The first: Are the Newtown kids being exploited?

This from Chris, "Yes, I believe these children are unfortunately being exploited by all sides -- the media, the gun control folks and others."

From Lira, "There are some people that look to exploit kids for ratings or politics. But looking at it from the kids points of view it must be awesome feeling to be able to sing to the world in memory of their friends and families."

"Talk Back" question two: Is Rubio's English/Spanish response enough to make Hispanic people fall in love with the Republican Party?

This from Ricardo, "I believe that some will listen to Marco Rubio but I think it will take more than a bi-lingual response to make Hispanic voters like the Republican Party. Actions speak louder than words."

And this from Ian, "Just a gimmick, Latinos and Hispanics are smart enough to get that. It's an insult to the community."

Third "Talk Back" question: Should Chris Christie be publicly shamed into losing weight?

This from Paul, "I'm sure Governor Christie is well aware he's a few pounds overweight. It's his right to remain the weight he wants to be and it's the voters right to consider his health when voting time comes."

And this from Kevin, "As a fat person, I'm disgusted by this entire topic. Governor Christie's weight has nothing to do with why I would never vote for him. Maybe I'm wrong."

Please continue the conversation. or tweet me @CarolCNN.

Thank you for your responses and thank you for joining me today. And we hope you enjoyed our first expanded talk back show. Keep the conversation going.

CNN NEWSROOM continues right now with Ashleigh Banfield.