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THE SITUATION ROOM
California Manhunt Ends; Rubio's Awkward Moment; Obama's Road Show; Carnival Triumph to Arrive Tomorrow; Best/Worst Seat In The House?; Dorner's Internet Fan Club; Hero Helps Obama Send Gun Message
Aired February 13, 2013 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: new information coming in, including the police radio conversations during what we presume were the final moments for a killer ex-cop.
Also, thousands of passengers remain at sea on a ship with no engine, no air conditioning, no hot water, and overflowing sewage. So when will all of this end?
Plus, the debate about whether a thirsty senator's awkward moment helps or hurts his chances to some day perhaps become president of the United States.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
The drone of bagpipes, the beat of drums and a flag-draped coffin are all part of a funeral for a victim of an ex-cop's killing rampage. Riverside police officer Michael Crain was ambushed and killed a week ago tomorrow. He was 34 years old. He had been with the Riverside Police Department for 11 years. Crain's one of four people who died during Christopher Dorner's 10-day of vendetta of revenge for his firing from the Los Angeles police force.
As for Dorner himself, investigators are piecing together the story of what exactly happened on Tuesday, the day they are still assuming was their last day alive.
Our Brian Todd is in the town of Big Bear Lake, California.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than two hours' drive from where Christopher Dorner's troubles began, law enforcement officials say the former L.A. policeman terrorized a rustic mountain community in his final hours. Near Big Bear Lake, Rick Heltebrake says he was carjacked by Dorner who he says came out of the trees and confronted him as he checked on a property. Heltebrake spoke to NBC's "Today Show."
RICK HELTEBRAKE, VICTIM: He came up to me with his gun pointed at me and I stopped my truck, put it in park, raised my hands and he said, I don't want to hurt you. Just get out and start walking up the road and take your dog, which is what I did.
TODD: A California fish and wildlife official tells us they believe Dorner was driving a stolen car when he shot at two of their wardens as he passed them, damaging their vehicle.
Others in this area also crossed Dorner's path.
(on camera): It was in this group of houses that Dorner at one point encountered a couple cleaning one of the houses. He tied them up and stole their car. This was right across the street from one of the law enforcement command posts and a very popular ski resort where people are still feeling the anxiety over what happened.
(voice-over): At Bear Mountain Resort, where hundreds of skiers and snowboarders gather every day, one of the managers says people had been living in fear for days knowing that Dorner was in the area.
KARL KLOUZER, BEAR MOUNTAIN RESORT: Some of the employees that work around here, they were feeling the vibration. It was scaring them. They had their guns loaded sleeping -- you know, sleeping with their guns.
TODD: Kaitlyn Bibbens had come to celebrate her 17th birthday on the slopes. She says just as the news broke that Dorner was moving close by...
KAITLYN BIBBENS, SNOWBOARDER: I found out when my mom actually called me crying coming to get me. But I don't know. It was kind of scary knowing that he was just right there.
TODD: Her mother, Pam, drove to Big Bear frantic to get her daughter out.
(on camera): What was going through your mind at the time you were driving up here?
PAM BIBBENS, MOTHER: To get here as quick as possible and not cry because I knew how scared I was. And when I called them, they were really scared because they had seen all of the activity so close to the slope.
TODD (voice-over): Carter Evans, a reporter for a local CBS News affiliate, was just a few dozen yards away when the final gunfight broke out. His station got exclusive video. We spoke to Evans' wife, whose friends were calling and texting during the standoff.
COURTNEY FRIEL, WIFE OF REPORTER: It was really scary. I was frozen in the kitchen for a good 30 minutes and just trying to get in touch with him. I was thinking, oh, my gosh, am I going to be a single mom?
BLITZER: That report from our Brian Todd who's in Bear Lake right now. We will be joined by him life late every.
A big part of the story is the bravery of the countless law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line to catch Christopher Dorner. As Brian just reported, the California Fish and Wildlife wardens were the first to put their lives in the line of fire yesterday. That would be on Tuesday.
The agency spokesman Andrew Hughan is joining us now from Sacramento.
Andrew, thanks very much for coming in.
ANDREW HUGHAN, CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE: Good afternoon, Wolf.
BLITZER: Have you spoken with the wardens who were involved with this encounter with Dorner yesterday?
I have. I spoke to them last night.
BLITZER: What did they say? What was it like? Can you walk us through what they told you?
They were very amped up and excited, as you can imagine. The one warden who did the shooting was very excited in a wound-up way, but he said two things to me that I have thought about a lot in the last two days. First, he said, for a few seconds this was the Wild Wild West, and then he thought about it for a second and he said, I'm grateful and thankful to be alive.
BLITZER: How were these wardens able to spot Dorner? What did they say?
HUGHAN: Well, they are excellent officers and they are trained to do this kind of thing all the time. This is unusual, but not out of their lane, and they were in the right place at the right time in a position to help.
They recognized -- they had great situational awareness to be able to recognize Mr. Dorner, even in a vehicle that they didn't think he was going to be in. They made direct eye contact and they engaged.
BLITZER: And they had no doubt. This was a life-and-death moment for them. What happened then? How did they get out of that death moment, shall we say?
HUGHAN: Well, Wolf, there are actually two -- two recognitions, two engagements, and two pursuits, but the second one, you know, he looked right at it, and what was happening was Mr. Dorner was shooting at our game warden and put five to six shells into a Fish and Game Chevy Silverado pickup truck and our warden escaped uninjured. It was a harrowing moment for him, for sure.
BLITZER: "The L.A. Times," as you know, is reporting that one of the wardens, a 35-year-old, is a former Marine. Is that right?
HUGHAN: He is a former Marine and he was very proud of that fact last night.
BLITZER: So he was obviously well trained to deal with a situation like this. End result, what happened? How did he get away? Were your wardens armed?
HUGHAN: Absolutely they are armed.
BLITZER: What happened? How was Dorner able to escape?
HUGHAN: Well, what happened is, they were in a head-on situation. Mr. Dorner shot five to six rounds into the vehicle. The wardens immediately stopped. He opened the door, he took his P-308 rifle off his lap and pointed it at Mr. Dorner as he was driving away and unloaded his weapon with 15 to 20 rounds at the evading vehicle.
BLITZER: And obviously Dorner got away. What did they do next? I assume they got in touch with other law enforcement authorities to begin this manhunt.
HUGHAN: Right. You know, when I was in high school, a police officer told me, you can never outrun a radio and that's exactly what they did. They picked up the radio and Mr. Dorner rode right into the waiting arms of the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department.
BLITZER: How unusual is it for your wardens over at Fish and Wildlife agency to be engaged in a firefight like this?
HUGHAN: It is a little unusual. We have had actually three of these kind of similar situations in the last year or so, but they train for this and they hope it never happens, but if they do, they are ready. They weren't outgunned, they weren't out-thought, or they were not outfought.
BLITZER: And they are OK now, your wardens, the ones who engaged Dorner, they are OK?
HUGHAN: Yes. We had six wardens on the scene and all of them are fine and checked clear.
BLITZER: That's good to hear. Thanks very much, Andrew Hughan, for joining us and thank your wardens for us as well. Obviously, what they did helped set in motion the final chapter in this horrible, horrible massacre. Appreciate it very much. Thank you.
HUGHAN: You're welcome.
BLITZER: Later tonight, by the way, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN, Anderson Cooper will devote his entire hour to the frenzied manhunt, the final shoot-out and to the victims of the L.A. cop, Christopher Dorner. That's coming up 8:00 p.m. Eastern later tonight.
Other news we're following, let's turn to Washington. Today's pushback to President Obama's emotional call for new restrictions on gun ownership. Last night's cheers and even some tears are given way to questions about the unintended consequences of government overreach.
What's going on?
Our chief -- our CNN national political correspondent, Jim Acosta, is here.
You have been looking at the reaction since the speech. What's going on?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this was a big moment last night. And it may be moving votes.
What was widely seen as an emotional high point for the president during his State of the Union address may have also been a turning point in the debate over gun control.
ACOSTA (voice-over): It was a moment carefully orchestrated for maximum emotional impact. As former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, the parents of slain teenager Hadiya Pendleton and dozens of other victims of gun violence looked on, President Obama called for a vote.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They deserve a vote.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: Gabby Giffords deserves a vote.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: The families of Newtown deserve a vote.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: The families of Aurora deserve a vote.
ACOSTA: One day later, there are indications on Capitol Hill the president may get it.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We don't need a cheerleader.
ACOSTA: Even as one of Mr. Obama's top Republican critics, Senator Lindsey Graham, made his case that the current system of background checks needs to be strengthened before it's expanded, he answered the president's call.
(on camera): Will you personally block a vote in the Senate on gun control measures?
GRAHAM: No. Let's vote. No, I don't disagree with the president. Have a debate. Let's vote. Let's find something we can agree on.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The reaction was the same from West Virginia Democratic Senator and gun enthusiast Joe Manchin.
(on camera): You won't block a vote on...
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: I won't block a vote on anything, whether I support it or not.
ACOSTA: That doesn't mean that the National Rifle Association will stop fighting.
DAVID KEENE, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: The president is trying to use emotion to force things through before they have been rationally debated.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama gives a good speech.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The NRA released a new ad pointing to an unpublished study on preventing gun violence from the government's National Institute of Justice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An assault weapons ban is unlikely to have an impact on gun violence.
ACOSTA: The study goes to question proposals for universal background checks, saying the effectiveness of those checks may depend on requiring gun registration, a major turnoff for owners of firearms.
When asked about the study, a Justice Department official told CNN it's not a public document and had no further comment. As for the victims' families, the debate over gun control has quickly turned many of them into political experts on the issue. Consider this man, whose sister was gunned down last year, telling a senator which measure is likely to get a vote.
ELVIN DANIEL, BROTHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM: Universal background check, without a doubt. And I am a gun owner. I am an NRA member. I'm an avid hunter. But I truly believe...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... ammunition, as well as...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One step at a time.
ACOSTA: One step at a time.
As for the NRA, the gun lobby's outspoken CEO, Wayne LaPierre, is planning to hold a news conference tomorrow in then to respond to the State of the Union speech. As for that Justice Department study, the NRA is not saying how it got it -- Wolf. BLITZER: Do we expect there will be separate votes on various elements of gun control, one on the magazines, one on assault-type weapons, one on universal background checks, or are they going to try to wrap it up into some comprehensive piece of legislation?
ACOSTA: I think that's uncertain at this point.
I did talk to somebody inside Harry Reid's office, the senator majority leader, who is key in all of this. He is a big gun enthusiast and what that office is saying right now is that whatever coming out of the Judiciary Committee -- and they are looking at an assault-weapons ban, they're looking at those high-capacity magazines and universal background checks -- will get a vote.
They're saying there will be a vote on some of these measures. There will be amendments allowed. Those amendments will get votes. But as to the president and what he had to say last night, he called for a vote and it looks like he will get them.
BLITZER: He might get separate votes, but he's going to get...
ACOSTA: He is going to get votes.
BLITZER: Yes. We will see what he can achieve on these sensitive issues.
Jim Acosta, thanks very much.
President Obama hit the road today. See whether his State of the Union to-do list is playing better there than it did on Capitol Hill.
Also, another day on a hot ship overflowing with raw sewage. Is the end now in sight?
BLITZER: President Obama took his State of the Union speech on the road today, at a factory in Asheville, North Carolina. The president touted the come back of the U.S. manufacturing industries and the jobs for the middle class that they create and double downed on his calls for new spending on education and jobs.
Our chief political analyst Gloria Borger is walking into THE SITUATION ROOM with more of the fallout from the big speech last night.
Clearly, Gloria, he's doubling down on a very ambitious agenda.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. This is a second-term president who is not scaling back here at all, Wolf. He comes to the State of the Union speech and second term with an awful lot of ambition.
And what we saw last night was a president who wasn't so much reaching out to members of Congress as he was reaching over their heads to the American people. He is making a bet that here through executive action, he's doing some things on cyber security, for example, that he can take his solutions to the problems of this country to the American people and say, I'm on the side of the middle class and the Republicans are not.
Now, there is a risk in this for the president because the Republicans are saying, you know what, Americans don't want to raise any more taxes. They are tired of the tax debate. They want to make the size of government smaller and they are going to be with us on that argument.
And the president says, you know what, a party that wants to survive on an austerity platform just isn't going to survive in the long term.
So, it sets us up in many ways for the next debate and the next presidential campaign.
BLITZER: That debate is going to be intense, I must say.
BORGER: Very much.
BLITZER: He laid out some new, pretty costly initiatives --
BORGER: He did.
BLITZER: -- on jobs, education, other areas. But he left out some sensitive details.
BORGER: Yes. Like what is the cost of those costly initiatives?
One thing that struck me last night is the one that guarantees that every 4-year-old child in this country will have access to high- quality preschool and no cost estimate was provided for this, Wolf. And when I asked a senior administration official about it yesterday, we attended these briefings with senior administration officials. All they would say is, we're going to tell you but there is no -- there is a significant federal investment. I did learn that it would be shared by the federal government, by the states, and also a sliding scale for parents depending on what they are able to pay.
But, again, we don't know what the price tag is. Great idea, what will it cost?
BLITZER: Yes, where that money is going to come from.
The speaker, John Boehner, he reacted to the president's speech earlier today. I'll play a little clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Last night, the president offered up more of the same -- higher taxes and more stimulus spending. And just as disappointing, we're weeks away from the president's sequester and the president laid out no plan to eliminate the sequester and the harmful cuts that will come as a result of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That's $85 billion in automatic spending cuts, the sequester as he calls it.
BORGER: Two weeks away.
BLITZER: Two weeks away.
BLITZER: I don't see any movement, any of bridging of the gap so far.
BORGER: I didn't see any movement on Boehner's face last night. Did you see him?
BLITZER: He was not happy, yes.
BORGER: Sitting behind the president, there you see it, completely stone-faced, not cracking a smile at all.
I asked a senior administration official about this and he said to me, look, there's a myth in Washington that if these two men actually sat around a table, they could get everything done and he said, that's not true, because Boehner can't deliver.
Now, the Republicans would say President Obama is afraid to take on his own liberals in his own party and that's his problem.
So where are we, Wolf, right now? We're nowhere. And again, as you point out, that sequester, March 1, just two weeks away --
BORGER: -- and nothing has been settled. I think what the president wants to do is kick the can down the road, as he's told us, but I'm not so sure the Republicans are going to go along with it.
BLITZER: And then if they don't, there's no deal, then those automatic cuts, they go into effect.
BORGER: And some Republicans say, great. It's the best they're going to get.
BLITZER: But they're not happy with defense cuts.
BORGER: Some Republicans, some of those Tea Party conservatives in the House --
BLITZER: They're ready to accept those?
BORGER: -- are saying they might.
BLITZER: OK. Gloria, thank you. BORGER: Sure.
BLITZER: Thousands of passengers on a cruise ship are desperate right now for their nightmare voyage to end. So, after the hellish condition on that crippled boat, what's waiting for the people once they reach shore? We're live. We're in mobile, Alabama, with a preview.
BLITZER: The nightmare for some 3,000 passengers and another 1,000 crew members aboard the Carnival Triumph could soon be over. The ship likely will be towed into port Mobile, Alabama, tomorrow, around this time. Families can't wait to see their loved ones and end an ordeal that many are describing as simply horrific.
CNN's David Mattingly is on the scene for us in Mobile, Alabama, with more on the latest.
What is the latest, David?
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there are helicopters, we're told, this afternoon, delivering provisions to that disabled cruise ship. That should be enough to get -- for people on board before they arrive here in mobile tomorrow. And already family members here on dry ground are just as anxious to see this voyage end.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Now in their fourth day at sea, with no engine, overflowing sewage, no air conditioning and no hot water, the guests aboard the Carnival Triumph can't get to dry land soon enough.
Mary Poret and Kim McKerreghan got a distressing phone call from their young daughters on Sunday, detailing conditions on board.
MARY PORET, PASSENGER'S MOTHER: (INAUDIBLE) in floors, urinating, using the bathroom in bags.
KIM MCKERREGHAN, PASSSENGER'S MOTHER: Onion sandwiches.
PORET: Standing in line for food for hours.
MCKEREGHAN: They had water but it was hot. There was no air. It's so hot, mommy. It's so hot.
MATTINGLY: Traveling with their fathers, 10-year-old Ally (ph) and 12-year-old Rebecca (ph) are cruise veterans with eight trips between them. Until now, nothing but good experiences.
Their moms drove from Texas to meet them in Mobile, supplied with food and, if necessary, antibiotics. But they haven't heard from them now in three days.
(on camera): Have you ever heard them that upset before?
PORET: And I never, ever want to hear that again.
MCKERREGHAN: Not that deep, frustrating, mom, come get me now. No. The one that makes you climb barbed-wire fences and everything just walk over hot coals to get to your kids. We have an ocean we can't cross.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): For the 3,100 passengers and 1,000 crew members, the trip to shore remains agonizingly slow. Tugs moving the ship a mere five to eight miles per hour. Everyone will have to endure one more night onboard before navigating the last stretch of water through Mobile Bay, arriving nearly five days late and almost 500 miles off-course.
MATTINGLY: And this is continuing to have a ripple effect on the Carnival cruise line schedule. This ship will be laid up at least until April with at least 12 cruises scheduled on board that ship now canceled -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Do we know what the procedure will be once the 24 hours from now or so, once that ship reaches mobile where you are? What happens then?
MATTINGLY: That should be the easy part here. People will leave the ship. They will be processed through this building behind me. They will find buses waiting and at that time they will have options to either go to hotel rooms or to take their bus straight back to Texas where they originally started this trip.
So, there's going to -- there will be some decisions to make. People will decide where they want to go. But the cruise ship line has already arranged for the transportation and for the flights, if necessary, for people who will be departing from here tomorrow.
BLITZER: With such a horrible condition cans on that ship, David, have you heard anything about medical problems for some of those people on board? I assume there are doctors there. I wonder if they have enough medicine to deal with all these issues.
MATTINGLY: There have been no reports today. But the city of Mobile is not waiting for anything like that to happen. They are going to have medical personnel here at the docks waiting and ready to perform any sort of cursory examinations to provide anyone any kind of assistance that they need when they get off. There's been no reports of anyone needing that, however, as they arrive here. But that was just a precaution.
We may be hearing some different stories once the ship arrives and we start talking to these passengers. But right now, the city is just doing that as a precaution. BLITZER: We'll have live coverage here in THE SITUATION ROOM tomorrow exactly at this time as that ship is scheduled to reach Mobile.
David, you'll join us as well. Thanks very much.
So can a drink of water make or break a political career? A U.S. senator possible presidential candidate, going to find out, whether he likes it or not.
BLITZER: Marco Rubio made headlines for his Republican response to the president last night but not necessarily for the reasons he may want. A social media frenzy started with the senator made an awkward pause. There it is right there. To take a sip of water. Our Kate Bolduan earlier traveled to Miami to get the back story on this rising GOP star.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Good evening. I'm Marco Rubio.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The 41-year-old senator, already labeled the Republican savior, was blunt in his official GOP response to the president's state of the union address.
RUBIO: His solution to virtually every problem we face is for Washington to tax more, borrow more, and spend more.
BOLDUAN: His big moment, however, overshadowed by an unscripted drink of water now deemed Watergate. Rubio took the moment now gone viral in stride.
RUBIO: I needed water. What am I going to do, you know? It happens. God has a funny way of reminding us that we are human.
BOLDUAN: That charm is one reason behind his rapid rise in the Republican party. To better understand his star power, we went to his roots, West Miami, Florida. His success may seem improbable.
RUBIO: My dad was a bartender. My mom was a cashier.
BOLDUAN: But it's no surprise to those close to Marco Rubio.
REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R), FLORIDA: Marco always was a superstar. He was a standout intern.
BOLDUAN: Rubio got his first taste of politics interning for Florida congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
ROS-LEHTINEN: I was a lot thinner and he had a lot more hair. But he's the same old Marco. Marco would do anything and everything I asked interns to do, and willingly so. Whether it was getting coffee or making copies. But mostly going with me to events. He was a real people person. BOLDUAN: Soon after, at 26 years old, Rubio won his first election for the West Miami city commission. The community he grew up in and still lives with his wife and four young children.
So this is kind of where it all began, if you will?
REBECA SOSA, CHAIR, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS: It is where it all began for him and for me.
BOLDUAN: I'm sure people were wondering, was he good?
SOSA: He was excellent. That was his seat.
BOLDUAN: Rebeca Sosa is a longtime friend and considered Marco Rubio's political godmother.
What makes Marco Rubio tick?
SOSA: Sometimes people get so arrogant that they don't listen. Marco listens. Marco sits with people. Marco analyzes his surrounding.
BOLDUAN: But it wasn't always easy. After becoming one of the youngest speakers of the Florida state house, he was the long-shot Senate candidate in 2010. Jose Mallea ran his campaign.
JOSE MALLEA, FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Early on, the entire establishment was against Marco. I think if you asked 100 political strategists from all over the country, 99 would have probably told you that it couldn't happen.
BOLDUAN: And that come-from-behind victory launched Rubio into the national spotlight. He was considered a top vice presidential contender during Mitt Romney's White House run. He introduced Romney at the Republican convention last year.
RUBIO: My dad used to tell us - (SPEAKING IN SPANISH). In this country - in this country, you're going to be able to accomplish all the things we never could.
BOLDUAN: Rubio's personal story has been a big part of his political narrative and the source of his biggest controversy to date. A son of Cuban immigrants, Rubio long suggested his parents fled the rule of Fidel Castro. But they actually came to the U.S. more than two years prior.
RUBIO: Do I wish I had known those dates earlier? Absolutely. Does it change anything? Absolutely not.
BOLDUAN: Still, those Latin roots and his conservative credentials are a perfect combination for a party in search of a makeover and desperate to attract more Hispanic voters. So it's fitting that Rubio responded to the president in both English and Spanish.
RUBIO: (SPEAKING IN SPANISH).
BOLDUAN: Add to all that Rubio taking a leading role in the latest push on immigration reform, and it leaves pretty much everyone asking for the inevitable question, Wolf. What is next for Marco Rubio? I'll tell you, spending some time in West Miami, it was clear that his hometown supporters are not setting expectations low. We even came across someone holding a Rubio 2016 sign in town. But maybe for the next couple of days, people will still be talking about his unscripted water break.
BLITZER: Yes, he's very popular. We'll talk more a little bit more about that coming up, by the way. But he's very popular not only in Miami but throughout Florida. He won that contest, and Florida being a key battleground state in an election, he's got a huge future ahead of him. He's a very impressive guy. I'm sure everyone told you the same.
BOLDUAN: I heard it over and over again. They really see him as kind of the son of that town, and they all take a lot of pride in seeing the success he's already made so far.
BLIZTER: Sip of water. We're going to talk a little more about that as well. Kate, thanks very much.
So will that moment help or hurt the senator? We're going to break it down, among other subjects coming up in our "Strategy Session."
BLITZER: Let's get to our "Strategy Session." Joining us, our CNN political analyst Cornell Belcher. He was a Democratic pollster for the Obama campaign. Also our CNN contributor, the former Bush White House speech writer David Frum. He's a contributing editor over at "The Daily Beast" and "Newsweek." Guys, thanks very much for coming in.
The fact that Marco Rubio gets a sip of water, a big deal, little deal? I mean, it's one of the curses of doing this response to a president's state of the union. People are only going to remember that.
DAVID FRUM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's a Twitter deal. Absent Twitter, I don't know that the water would be a story at all.
Marco Rubio did two things that were important. One positive, one negative. The positive thing was he really found a successful new tone for a Republican response. This is a big country a mile away from the takers and dependence attitude of the 2012 campaign. And that's very welcome.
The negative thing was he was not able to introduce new ideas. This is still very much a familiar Republican message. But the tone is his work. The ideas are the collective work of the party, so he gets an A. The party, not so much. CORNELL BELCHER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I'm going to agree with half of what my friend says. Part of the problem is, I think it was a debacle --
BLITZER: What was a debacle?
BELCHER: Rubio's whole night. And let me explain why. Going in, this was the savior. The savior fumbled. He fumbled going into the end zone.
Look, he had a national audience. They set him up as this great savior. He goes in stylistically, he's sweating like Nixon. He goes for the water in a really awkward way which will, quite frankly, be what's most remembered from this.
And then from the substance standpoint, what of substance or new ideals did he introduce last night that wasn't a rehash of the 2012 campaign? Republicans are going to have to get over the fact that, you know what? The president won with more than five million votes last time around. They've got to retool their message. The same sort of message is nothing that they didn't rehash during the campaign --
BLITZER: But you agree, he's got a huge future ahead of him.
BELCHER: No, I don't agree!
BLITZER: The fact that he went for a sip of water, wiped a little bit of sweat away from his forehead --
BELCHER: No, because style matters. I mean, ask Nixon, did style matter?
BLTIZER: He became president.
BELCHER: Style matters. And he fumbled. And by the way, the message matters also. The rehashing is sort of setting up the federal government as a straw man to attack him in the same sort of levels of attack that they used against the president in 2012, they didn't work. So what makes you think that it's going to work now?
FRUM: Look, this will be a trivia question next week. The world moves very, very fast. The water, I mean.
FRUM: But the question about message, that's important. But that is not Marco Rubio's alone. And I think that one of the things that we are going to see as we move towards 2016 is a contest between the gubernatorial wing and Washington wing of the Republican party.
One thing that is striking about the emerging 2016 lineup is the three most obvious names on that list. Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul are all in Washington. That is an unusually Washington- tilted field for a Republican party that normally draws its presidential strength from the states. BLITZER: We were watching - at least, I was watching. You saw the president delivering the state of the union, you saw Biden sitting behind him, you saw John Boehner sitting behind him. Biden would be standing up applauding. He'd be very happy. But the speaker, not so much. Once in a while he would stand up and give a little bit of an applause, as you see right there. But by and large, he was not - he didn't seem all that excited about what was going on. That's not unusual?
FRUM: This whole thing is an excruciating performance. You know, we are so used to when we watch political video to see things that are edited. And if not edited, at least lavishly practiced, like the convention speeches. This is a little bit the way politics used to be before there was video software, and people have to sit on those stages for an hour and a quarter or more and try to suppress anything like a human reaction. Because if they need a drink of water, God forbid, everybody jumps them.
BELCHER: It encapsulates to me the problem that outside Republicans are going to have with the Washington Republicans. Because I think he encapsulated what all is wrong with the Washington Republican. And that image of him sitting there grim-faced as the president is laying out, quite frankly, popular things and a lot of thematic that the president laid out last time it was things from his campaign. The minimum wage, I mean, broad support. Even your CNN poll showed you 70 percent thinks that the president is moving the country in the right direction. Him sitting grim-faced throughout that and not sort of applauding looking, quite frankly, looking mean and indifferent does not help the image of the Republican party.
BLITZER: You want to add anything to that?
FRUM: Well, I don't think he looked mean and indifferent. I think they all look - and this is one of the things that is sad about being -- everybody looks exhausted and tired because they have been trapped in that room for more than an hour before the event begins. And then they have normal human reactions. And of course, every politician in that room has multiple audiences, the broad national audience, the media audience, but also people back home who may not be enchanted with the president as Cornell is. And if John Boehner were leaping to his feet like the audience in a Justin Bieber concert clapping at everything, there would be trouble back home in Ohio.
BELCHER: I don't think he leaps to his feet, but you're talking about a Republican Congress that is less popular than a root canal versus the president who has a majority favorable. They need to come to him and embrace some of his popular proposals.
BLITZER: Maybe less popular, but they are the majority of the House of Representatives.
BELCHER: Thanks to gerrymandering, yes, they are.
BLITZER: For whatever the reason, they are the majority.
FRUM: To voting efficiency and not piling up super majorities which does them no good.
BELCHER: They lost the popular vote more than a million votes.
BLITZER: OK, guys, thanks very much.
BELCHER: Thank you.
BLITZER: So leave it to social media to try to turn a bad guy into some kind of a hero. Believe it or not, it's actually happening to that ex-cop blamed for the rampage, four deaths in California.
BLITZER: Most of us watched the crimes of Christopher Dorner unfold with a sense of horror, but the ex-cop who went on a killing spree, developed, get this, some sort of odd fan base out there on the internet.
CNN's Dan Simon explains his supporters were even cheering him on during yesterday's final standoff.
BLITZER: Sheriff McMahon has asked that all of the helicopters pull back or leave the area of the barricaded suspect --
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As police asked news helicopters to back off and as the cabin went off in flames, social media also lit up with users like this one crying conspiracy. So U.S. authorities have apparently burnt someone to death in a cabin and let it burn through the basement so nobody is left.
Another user referring to reports that Dorner's I.D. was found. Come on, people, how in the world is Dorner's body burned beyond recognition, but they found his license he just so happened to be carrying?
Another pervasive theory, I think Dorner probably killed someone and left their body in that fire while he escaped. Others blasted the police.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to go forward with the plan with the burn.
SIMON: Blaming them for the cabin fire. LAPD was prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner yesterday. They burned him alive. Apparently, burning people alive is now considered appropriate behavior for the police. From the very beginning, Dorner had found plenty of sympathizers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want to start off by saying that I perfectly support 100 percent what Chris Dorner is doing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I read this manifesto and I basically -- I believe him. SIMON: On Facebook, more than 18,000 likes for a page titled "We Stand with Christopher Dorner." On Instagram, a rapper spoke for many when he said this about Dorner's rampage. "This was a necessary evil. God bless you, sir."
KAREN NORTH, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: People like anti-heroes and we have a history of voting for people like Bonnie and Clyde and Butch Cassidy.
SIMON: USC Professor Karen North studies the intersection of psychology and social media.
NORTH: One of the things that social media has allowed us to do is to join conversations and not be as accountable for our opinions.
SIMON: In other words, people may express things online they wouldn't necessarily say to their friends in public. Others just like to be provocative. Still, this user poses a question many today are asking.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is America showing so much support for him?
SIMON: Dan Simon, CNN, San Francisco.
BLITZER: Coming up in our next hour, we're taking a closer look at the tactics the police did use in Dorner's final standoff. Stand by for that.
Also, an exclusive interview with a hero cop who was shot at least a dozen times and lived to tell about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody gets shot this many times. Was that going through your head at all? I can't believe how many times I've been shot?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. It's funny you say that. It's kind of silly to laugh about it. There was a point where I just thought, Jesus, are you not done? How many times can you shoot someone?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We should follow the example of a police officer named Brian Murphy. When a gunman opened fire on a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin, Brian was the first to arrive and he did not consider his own safety. He fought back until help arrived and ordered his fellow officers to protect the safety of fellow Americans worshipping inside even as he lay bleeding from 12 bullet wounds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Before that remarkable story last night, CNN's Chris Cuomo sat down with Lieutenant Murphy.
LT. BRIAN MURPHY, SHOOTING VICTIM: I've been hit an awful lot. When you're on your belly and you look down and your hands are basically just shot to pieces, then you start thinking, I might be in trouble here.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lieutenant Brian Murphy remembers every one of the 15 bullets he took of what he calls a beautiful Sunday morning this past August, just moments after responding to a call of shots fired at a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin.
(on camera): What happened?
MURPHY: I yelled stop. I saw his pistol come up, we both shot pretty much about the same time, 30, 40 yards away, maybe. I missed and he hit me directly in the chin and went down my throat and ripped apart my voice box and my larynx.
CUOMO (voice-over): His voice is still damaged, but there's dash cam video to tell the story, Murphy confronting the shadowy figure of the killer who runs right at him, both firing. When Murphy is hit, the shooter closes in. Nine people were already shot, six died in a hateful act of domestic terrorism. Now Lieutenant Murphy was in the shooter's sights.
MURPHY: That's when the shots hit me in the back of the leg and hit the vest a couple of times and then he shot me directly in the back of the head just right here in the back of the skull and that was the one that kind of stopped me in my tracks for a second.
CUOMO: That should have killed Murphy, but it was just the beginning.
MURPHY: He just continued to shoot probably six to eight feet away and then all of a sudden it got very quiet. There was no sound. There was nothing and that was the first time that I thought I might be going out. I just felt warm and my eyes got heavy, and I thought, I could stay here.
CUOMO: In a life or death situation, the officer makes an amazing decision. Instead of curling up to protect himself, he keeps moving to distract the gunman, a heroic move that came at great cost.
(on camera): Nobody gets shot this many times. Was that going through your head at all, like I can't believe how many times I've been shot?
MURPHY: Absolutely. It's funny you say that and it's kind of silly to laugh about it. But there was a point where I thought, Jesus, are you not done? How many times can you shoot someone?
CUOMO (voice-over): Even when help comes, Murphy waves off his fellow officers, telling them to help others first. His survival is a miracle.
(on camera): I've never met anybody who took 15 rounds before. You've probably never heard of anybody who took 15 rounds before.
CUOMO: So why you? Do you ask yourself? Why was I chosen to survive?
MURPHY: It's probably one of the first questions I asked, even in intensive care, was why me? I probably couldn't have lived with myself if it was one of the officers who I work with.
CUOMO (voice-over): Part of why may have been answered when he received an invitation to be a guest of the president at the "State of the Union."
(on camera): When people see you at the "State of the Union," what do you think you'll symbolize?
MURPHY: I hope perseverance, I hope dedication to duty.
CUOMO (voice-over): His presence in the first lady's box may also symbolize the president's push for tougher restrictions on guns.
MURPHY: From a societal point of view, there needs to be recognition of the fact that this is a problem. Does it necessarily mean restriction? I don't know. My shooter would have passed any background check.
As a matter of fact, went and bought his weapon legally. Does that mean that we just give up and say we don't need to touch anything? I think what's being done is the correct thing.
CUOMO: For all he's lived through, there is one thing that Lieutenant Brian Murphy is not sure he can live with. He doesn't like to be called that word.
MURPHY: If you want to call me (inaudible) or the man of the year, I'll take it, but hero, I still have a hard time with.
CUOMO (on camera): You're going to get used to it because you're going to get some practice.
CUOMO: Because you are exactly what we want to hold out to people as what heroic behavior is all about.
If not you, who?
MURPHY: I appreciate you saying that. I really do. CUOMO: I've never been so happy to shake a hand from Brooklyn before.
MURPHY: Thank you.
CUOMO: Thank you.