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What is the Future of the Republican Party?; Sen. Portman Supports Same-Sex Marriage; Joe Biden, Reality Star?; Republicans Convene at CPAC; Senate Panel Slams JPMorgan Chase; 11-Year-Old Girl can Play Football

Aired March 15, 2013 - 09:30   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Happy Friday. Thank you for joining us. I'm Carol Costello. Stories we're watching in the NEWSROOM, at 31 minutes past the news hour. Opening bell rings on Wall Street, many investors wonder if the Dow will see its 11th straight day of record gains.

Other stories we're watching, a search crew finds several cars in a New Orleans waterway, but none are the Honda accord belonging to a missing to a New Orleans teacher, Terrilynn Monnette. She was last seen on March 2nd. Searchers will bring in sonar equipment Sunday to do a more thorough search.

New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez continues to be under scrutiny. The "Washington Post" reporting a federal grand jury is investigating Menendez's role regarding the business dealings of one of his donors. Menendez declined to say he knew of the probe, but tells the Post he has acted appropriately at all times.

President Obama, travels to Chicago today, where he is expected to detail a plan of funding research into clean energy. The plan would set aside 2 billion a year for public and private research. That money would come from federal oil and gas leases. Congressional Republicans are expected to oppose the plan.

Red Box expanding its service to include video streaming. The movie rental service known for its red kiosks will join Netflix and Hulu by offering movies online. Red Box hopes to make itself stand out by offering plans that include streaming along with its with traditional kiosk rentals.

"Political Buzz" is your rapid fire look at best political topics of the day. Three topics, 30 seconds on the clock. Playing with us today, CNN contributor and senior political columnist for "Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast," John Avlon and Ron Christie, a former assistant to George W. Bush. Welcome to both of you.


COSTELLO: Good morning. Glad you are here. First up, a funny thing happened on the first day of the annual conservative gathering known as CPAC. Senators Rand Paul and Marco Rubio outlining very different visions.


SEN. RAND PAUL, (R) KENTUCKY: The GOP of old has grown stale and moss- covered.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R) FLORIDA: We don't need a new idea. There is an idea. The is called America, and it still works.


COSTELLO: Okay. So Rubio and Paul putting a very different public face on a seemingly growing tensions within the Republican party. Politicians, pundits and supporters try to figure out a way forward after the bruising 2012 election. Our question? Can Republicans ever again speak with one voice? Ron.

CHRISTIE: Well, I don't think any party, Carol, speaks with one voice. The Democrats have a wide variety of issues, they have a wide variety of concerns, so do the Republican parties. But I think the one thing that is very clear about the Republican party today, is that we are firm in our commitment to reduce the size of government, to balance the budget, and have a strong national defense. I think there is always going to be differences of opinion on certain social issues so what happens with the two senators our two rising stars yesterday, doesn't surprise me at all.


JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Look there is a simmering GOP civil war going on right now. It's one of the great stories on our time. There are fundamental differences, even on issues of security when it comes to Rand Paul. But a vigorous debate is good. It is healthy for the Republican party as they try to find a way out of the wilderness, and the Libertarian wing really is ascendant (ph) right now. And in there you've got a great debate, but the Republican party is going to have to figure out to connect to the millennial generation and Rand Paul right now has a lot of momentum in that direction.

COSTELLO: He sure does. Up next, Senator Rob Portman, Republican, making a reversal on the issue of same-sex marriage.


SEN. ROB PORTMAN, (R ) OHIO: For me, personally, I think this is something that we should allow people to do - to get married and to have the joy and the stability of marriage that I have had for over 26 years.


COSTELLO: In a CNN exclusive, the Republican senator from Ohio who voted for Defense of Marriage Act and similar legislation, says he reached the decision after learning his 21-year-old son is gay. But a recent Quinnipiac poll shows Portman's party doesn't agree with him. Just 23 percent of Republicans support same-sex marriage compared to half of all independents and 65 percent of Democrats. So our question, is Rob Portman putting his political future at risk? John?

AVLON: It's a stand of conscious and he should be commended. He is evolving on an issue because it affected him personally. And while folks can criticize conservatives for becoming liberals on issues that affect them personally, we're in the midst of a gay civil rights movement and a Republican senator changing his mind on this issue, because it affects his family, sends a strong natural to other leading Republicans in advance of a Supreme Court case that could be momentous. This is an issue, not simply partisan, a generational divide, and it's time to evolve as a country. So it's a very positive step forward for the country that Rob Portman did this.


CHRISTIE: Well, in full disclosure, Rob Portman is my closest political mentor. I commend him for his honesty and frankly for his courage. I think what Senator Portman did in this particular instance, he put himself as a dad first and politician second and I think he made the determination what was best for his son Will and what was best for his family. So, his political future I think is very strong. He has a very bright future and he is a player to reckoned with in the United States Senate and certainly one of the centrist (ph) Republicans that President Obama and the conservative republicans can work with.

COSTELLO: And I'm going to break format here, Ron and ask you another question. Rob Portman came out, said I will support same-sex marriage, even though he voted against it time and time again, spoke out against it time and time again. So that he's such a conservative Republican, coming out, saying my son is gay, I've changed my mind, thought a lot about this. Will he change Republican minds since according to that poll, only 23 percent of Republicans say same-sex marriage should be?

CHRISTIE: I think it's more of a question of conscience than I think it is a political persuasion. I think that Republicans need to evaluate what they believe. Their God, their faith, what their underpinnings are. Again, I think this was a determination made as a dad, rather than a politician. Others elected Republicans will have to search their conscience and see which way they feel. I support him in his decision here very much.

COSTELLO: Okay, onto the buzzer beater, 20 seconds on the clock. Vice President Joe Biden, reality star? The White House launching "Being Biden," an audio series that will follow the vice president around Washington and beyond as he shares his experience, quote, "in candid, behind the scenes snapshots." As the vice president once said this is a big well, you know the rest. Basically what he does, pictures come up and vice president Joe Biden kind of describes what's happening in the picture. That's what this is all about. So the question, what do you want to know most about "Being Biden," John?

AVLON: I want to know how much overlap there is between "The Onion" caricature of Joe Biden and the real Joe Biden and whether he's running for president in '16. But this is actually a perfect fit for Joe Biden. He's become this cult figure. It's fascinating. COSTELLO: Ron.

CHRISTIE: I'm with John on this one. Are you kidding me? To be a fly on the wall to see what the Vice President of the United States is up to. He's the gift that keeps on giving. I think that he's one heartbeat away from the presidency, I certainly want to see what he's doing.

COSTELLO: For completely different reasons.

CHRISTIE: Exactly.

AVLON: Very different reasons.

COSTELLO: John Avlon, Ron Crhristie, thank you for playing.

CHRISTIE: Always a pleasure.

COSTELLO: We're back in a minute.


COSTELLO: All right. I want to take you out to CPAC just a minute. That's an influential conservative political gathering in Maryland. Lots of speakers including Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, Rand Paul. Most recently to speak with Senator Mitch McConnell. He's the Republican minority leader, and he has some interesting comments about the Democratic ticket in 2016. Let's listen.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, REPUBLICAN MINORITY LEADER: Don't tell me Democrats are the party of the future when their presidential ticket for 2016 is shaping up to look like a rerun of "The Golden Girls."



MCCONNELL: We have Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, we got Paul Ryan and a slew of bright, young energetic governors ready to take America into the future. And the other guys? They got Hillary and Joe Biden.


COSTELLO: Of course, Mitch McConnell will run again for his Senate seat and he would be 71-years-old. Paul Ryan just took the podium. We're going to listen to a bit of his speech. In just a second, when he begins speaking, but as you know Paul Ryan recently introduced a Republican budget that he says will balance the budget within 10 years, basically by eliminating Obamacare and turning Medicare into a voucher system. Let's listen to Paul Ryan.


REP. PAUL RYAN, (R ) WISCONSIN: I'm so happy to be here. We all need a break from the mess in Washington. I just got to say, it's nice to be in a room full of conservatives for a change.


Thank you.

It is time to take stock to catch up with friends and to plan for the future. So, I am grateful for the chance to speak with you and thanks for this opportunity.

You know, this has been a really big week. We have white smoke from the Vatican, and we got a budget from the Senate. The Senate, they call their budget a foundation for growth, restoring the promise of American opportunity. Wow -- I feel like saluting already.

But when you read it, you find that the Vatican's not the only place blowing smoke this week. You see, the Democrats they call their budget a balanced approach. The thing is, they never balance the budget, ever. In fact, they call for another trillion dollar plus tax hike on top of even more spending. If we did nothing, meaning not pass their budget, the government would save money.

Look, we take the opposite approach. I am proud of our budget because it's changed the conversation. Today, we're not talking about cliffs or ceilings or sequesters. We're talking about solutions. And that's how it should be. Our budget expands opportunity by growing the economy. It strengthens the safety net by retooling government and it restores fairness by ending cronyism.


COSTELLO: All right. We're going to step away from Congressman Paul Ryan because obviously he's going to go in to explaining his budget to -- the audience at CPAC.

We'll continue to monitor Congressman Ryan's comments and we'll bring you more as -- as they come in. We're going take a quick break. We'll be back with more.


COSTELLO: JPMorgan Chase lost $6 billion because of shoddy trades by its chief investment office. That's part of a damning new report from a Senate panel that also blames the bank's culture. Alison Kosik has more for the New York Stock Exchange.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol lawmakers released quite a scathing report on this blaming JPMorgan for that massive lose. These risky trades they came to be known as the London Whale. Now the Senate released this 300 page-report after its nine-month investigation. Here's what they found. That JPMorgan ignored limit on risk taking, it dodged oversight and quote, "misinformed the public".

They're also blaming regulators for missing warning signs. Now JPMorgan Chase says its senior management acted in good faith and never had any intent to mislead anyone. It's pretty much a reiteration of what we've heard before from JPMorgan. Incredibly JPMorgan ultimately absorbed that $6 billion lose. Now you may not be hearing a huge uproar about this because people respect and like CEO Jamie Dimon. He's had close ties to the White House and Wall Street likes him, too -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Alison Kosik reporting live from the New York Stock Exchange.

An 11-year-old girl wins her fight to get back on the football field. "The Bleacher Report" has the story.


COSTELLO: An 11-year-old girl in Philadelphia wins her fight to get back on the football field, Bleacher Report has the story.


COSTELLO: An 11-year-old girl in Philadelphia wins her fight to play football with her male teammates. Jared Greenberg joins us with more on today's "Bleacher Report." Hi.

JARED GREENBERG, BLEACHER REPORT: Hey, Carol. She is an 11-year-old trailblazer, football is no longer just for the boys in Philadelphia. And all future girls who take to the gridiron owe thanks to Caroline Pla. Nearly 110,000 people signed the online petition. And the archbishop of Philadelphia responded by reversing a ruling to ban girls from playing football. Last year Pla had slipped through the cracks and played two games before the league informed her of the rules violation.

Playing with the boys since she was 5, Pla says she'll be ready for the fall. Look at the City of Brotherly Love -- a little change of heart.

Keep your head up. That's what the NFL is telling its players as the league looks to implement another safety measure. This time the new guidelines are focused on the ball carriers. A running back or receiver may not intentionally lower his helmet to initiate contact with the defender. In the past many of the safety rules apply to the defensive side of the ball oftentimes giving an advantage to the offense. This new policy could level the playing field and, of course, help limit concussions. The owners will vote next week.

It's not madness until we get a buzzer beater Thursday. We hit the jackpot. (inaudible) Brandon Paul -- hey, make your parents proud they made the trip. Paul in the white Illinois jersey for the win and you bet you. Paul sends Illinois to the win over Minnesota. A tough blow for the Golden Gophers who may now not make the NCAA tournament up next for the Illini, the big ten quarters final against the number three team in the country, Indiana.

Like filling out March Madness bracket but you're not much of a basketball fan; you're more into the sci-fi? No worries the creators "Star Wars" has it covered. Lucas Films will launch their own bracket-style tournament next week with all your favorite "Star Wars" characters. Fans will be able to vote each day on the matchups from both sides of the bracket. The light side and of course, the dark side.

And I'm really watching here. The one that features R2D2 against C3PO, the Han Solo, Lando Calrissian -- first round match up -- apparently that's going to be a pretty good win as well. Carol, I'm pretty sure I'm just going to stick to the real bracket. But then again, you know those who really don't know that much about basketball are the ones who usually do the best in the bracket. So maybe I should apply that theory and take part in the Lucas Films bracket.

COSTELLO: You never watched "Star Wars" in your whole life, have you?

GREENBERG: Not a day. I was locked in a sports cave my entire life and that's all I know.

COSTELLO: I understand. Well I'm putting my money on Darth Vader. Put it there.

GREENBERG: Well, I am not your father. Is that the right one?

COSTELLO: See, you know that. That's good. Thanks Jared.

The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM after a break.