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CNN NEWSROOM

U.S. Beefing Up Missile Defense; Mitt Romney at CPAC

Aired March 15, 2013 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Welcome. I'm Don Lemon in today for Brooke.

We are going to begin with North Korea's threat of a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the United States. The threat has prompted the Pentagon to increase our domestic missile defense systems on the west coast.

The Pentagon says it is deploying 14 additional ground-base missile interceptors in Alaska and California. The announcement is expected at any moment.

We want to bring in now our chief Washington correspondent, Jake Tapper.

So, Jake, good afternoon to you. Talk us through what we already have in place to intercept an air assault like the one North Korea is threatening and why the U.S. is doing this now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is very simple why we're doing it now. We're doing it now according to a senior administration official -- quote -- "This is about enhancing our missile defense capabilities in view of growing threats from North Korea. As their technologies have grown in sophistication, so too must the scale of our defenses."

So, in other words, Don, as the U.S. has seen North Korea's technology advance, the Defense Department has become alarmed that what we have in place right now will not be enough and that's the reason for this move. It should take about two years and cost about $200 million.

LEMON: Two years, $200 million. And that's all that is expected at this announcement, Jake, is this.

TAPPER: That's right. And in addition, we should point out there are some congressional critics who say that in 2011 the Obama administration argued that we didn't need to take these steps that are being announced today. And there was pushback in Congress, individuals saying, no, actually, we do need to do it and because they thought North Korea would take the steps and be in the place where they are today.

LEMON: All right, Jake Tapper, thank you very much.

This is exactly what Jake will be covering on his new show and we want to remind everyone, Jake has a new show on CNN. It's called "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER." And it debuts on Monday the 18th, 4:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

So we know North Korea does have missiles. How many? And what kind? Still unclear. We also know they're stepping up their nuclear capabilities, conducting testing in underground sites.

Chad Myers here now.

Chad, talk us through the actual threat here. Can they reach us?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I think unclear is the best word you used.

Yes, we think now that about 7,000 kilometers to 10,000 kilometers would be the longest ICBM that they could launch. Now, keep this in mind they have tried to launch them a couple times and it completely failed. We have no idea how they could possibly go.

But let's give you an idea of the rings. Almost looks like an earthquake ring, but it is not. This is -- just one more time, zoom back out, how far could this possibly go -- 7,000 kilometers could certainly get to about Alaska -- 10,000 kilometers could get to the United States. Again, the uncertainty is, they have never had a successful launch of this. So we don't technically know how far they could go. We don't know how big the warhead or the payload could be on any of these missiles as well.

So a lot of unknowns, but that's what you expect from behind the curtain.

LEMON: All right, Chad, I'm being told -- stand by.

We are going to get to Chuck Hagel now.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

CHUCK HAGEL, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: ... additional ground-base interceptors, GBIs at Fort Greely, Alaska.

That will increase the number of deployed ground-based interceptors from 30 to 44, including the four GBIs at Vandenberg Air Force base in California. These additional GBIs will provide a nearly 50 percent increase in our missile defense capability.

Second, with the support of the Japanese government, we're planning to deploy an additional radar in Japan. The second TPY-2 radar -- or TPY -- will provide improved early warning and tracking of any missile launched from North Korea at the United States or Japan.

Third, as directed by Congress, we're conducting environmental impact studies for a potential additional GBI site in the United States. While the administration has not made any decision on whether to proceed with an additional site, conducting environmental impact studies will shorten the timeline for construction should that decision be made.

And, fourth, we are restructuring the SM3 2B program. As many of you know, we had planned to deploy the SM3 2B as part of the European Phase Adaptive Approach. The purpose was to add to the protection of the U.S. homeland already provided by our parent GBIs against missile threats in the Middle East.

The timeline for deploying this program had been delayed to at least 2022 due to cuts in congressional funding. Meanwhile, the threat matured. By shifting resources from this lagging program, to fund the additional GBIs, as well as advanced kill vehicle technology that will improve the performance of the GBI and other versions....

LEMON: All right, Chuck Hagel announcing what we said at the top of the show, the Pentagon saying they're deploying 14 additional ground- based missile interceptors in California and also Alaska, also saying they're going to deploy radar in Japan to intercept any missile that may be coming from North Korea. We will keep you updated on that.

Make sure you stay tuned for this broadcast and "THE SITUATION ROOM WITH WOLF BLITZER" after this broadcast as well.

Moving on now, just a short time, Mitt Romney gave first big speech since losing the presidential election. He talked to conservatives trying to reboot their brand at the CPAC meeting in Maryland.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, as someone who just lost the last election, I'm probably not in the best position to chart the course for the next one.

But, that being said, let me offer this advice. And perhaps because I'm a former governor, I would urge us all to learn lessons that come from some of our greatest success stories. And that's 30 Republican governors across the country.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: They're winning elections, but more importantly, they're solving problems, big problems, important problems.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: He's there complimenting a few governors who are not attending the CPAC, like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

CNN's political analyst Gloria Borger joins me now live from Washington.

Hi, Gloria. How are you doing?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Good, how are you?

LEMON: I'm doing great.

BORGER: That was fun, right?

LEMON: You're right. BORGER: That was Mitt Romney saying, you know what, you should have invited Chris Christie, you should have invited Governor McDonnell of Virginia, both of whom, by the way, are very popular in their home states.

These are people who are getting the job done at the state level. So I think that was a little bit of Mitt Romney in your face.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: It sounded like he was back on the campaign trail. But what do you think he was accomplishing here by bringing up Chris Christie, by bringing Christie into this conversation?

BORGER: I think Mitt Romney, more than anybody, probably looked at all the exit polls and all of the data and saw the Republican Party's demographics and saw that it is shrinking rather than growing. I remember when Ronald Reagan wanted the big tent. Right now, the Republican Party is more like a teepee.

I think he knows it's got to grow. And the governors are -- look at Chris Christie, popular in a blue state,a Republican governor popular in a blue state. Mitt Romney was at that point a moderate Republican governor, also in a blue state of Massachusetts. So I think this is where he comes from. And I think it was as pointed as he could get before this audience, without insulting people, saying, you know what, these are governors you should have perhaps included on your roster because they are the future of the party too.

LEMON: You said moderate. But I remember last year, I think the quote was, he said that he was severely conservative.

BORGER: Severely conservative.

And I would argue, you know, this is a different Mitt Romney that showed up there today, right? Because last -- you're right, he was severely conservative. Now he's just a former presidential candidate.

LEMON: Right. I have been wanting to -- dying to talk to you about this since we got news of it last night. I want to switch gears and talk about Republican Senator Rob Portman reversing his stance on same-sex marriage.

I met him in Ohio during the election, very affable guy, very nice guy. He reversed his stance after it was revealed to him his son that he was gay. His son told him. How are Republicans reacting to this announcement?

BORGER: I think -- I think it's more like they reacted to Dick Cheney's announcement that he wanted same-sex marriage to be up to the states.

They're sort of saying, OK, this man has a personal point of view because of his son. I think they're respectful of it. As you point out, we're heading into the Supreme Court arguments on the Defense of Marriage Act, and on Proposition 8. And this is a huge issue in which the American public has shifted dramatically over the last few years since I have been covering this issue.

LEMON: Last few months, it seems.

BORGER: Right. The president, I think, tilted the balance to the pro-same-sex marriage point of view, but the American public has gone to about a majority, a little over 50 percent of the American public now supporting same-sex marriage.

Now we're going to see what the Supreme Court does and whether in fact it is at all affected by public opinion or whether they decide that this should be left up to the states.

LEMON: Gloria Borger, always good to see you. Thank you very much.

BORGER: Sure. Thank you.

LEMON: Gloria is hosting a special on politics and same-sex marriage. It's on Saturday, March 29. It's at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. We will tell you about that as it gets closer here on CNN.

(NEWS BREAK)

LEMON: Up next: an incredible story. A boy taken from his foster family at the age of 13 never forgets the patience -- the parents -- excuse me -- that loved him -- 20 years later, you won't believe what happened. That's next right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Now to a story about undying love that is playing out in California in a courtroom this afternoon.

It is not between husband and wife, but a son and a woman who is a mother to him in every way except the paperwork. That's why at 32 years old, that's right, 32, he's getting adopted.

CNN's Paul Vercammen has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A son's true love is wonderfully stubborn.

MAURICE GRIFFIN, GETTING ADOPTED: I love you.

(CROSSTALK)

GRIFFIN: Finally going to get it done, yes. Love you. Love you so much.

VERCAMMEN: Maurice Griffin, 32 years old, is headed to court, juvenile court, to finally be adopted by his one-time foster mother, Lisa Godbold. They were pried apart almost two decades ago, completely lost contact, but not hope for reunion.

LISA GODBOLD, MOTHER: I just feel like this makes it official and we don't have to keep explaining it now.

GRIFFIN: I didn't fight for all those years to not finish this. I didn't fight for no reason. That's why it has to happen. I never let anybody get close to me again. I hurt a lot of people. And it was a rough road.

VERCAMMEN: The long road to redemption first took a happy turn when Lisa saw Maurice at an orphan's ranch near the Sacramento home she shared with her African-American husband, Charles Harris, and their two biological sons.

GODBOLD: Back in the early '80s, interracial relationships weren't as common or accepted as they are today. And the fact that Maurice was biracial and we were a biracial family and we were already raising boys I think made us a great profile.

VERCAMMEN: Maurice moved in with the new family when he was 9, bonded to the younger boys, Gideon and Spencer.

GRIFFIN: We were best friends.

We would run around and did mischievous things and fun things and it was a good time.

VERCAMMEN: But they say at 13, Maurice was forced to leave before he could be adopted after a dispute over spanking.

GODBOLD: The foster care system, which I believe is still this way, you can't use corporal punishment, you can't spank foster children. And Maurice very much wanted that. And we wanted him to feel like the rest of our kids. And there was a difference of opinion with some supervisors.

VERCAMMEN: Lisa says officials threatened to take her biological sons. Maurice was eventually removed and lost touch.

GRIFFIN: It was just a 10-year emptiness. I just -- I couldn't talk with anybody about it because nobody was there. I couldn't call somebody and say, remember this, or that? It was just a void.

VERCAMMEN: But they never stopped trying to find each other. Lisa's husband died in 1998. She remarried, changed her last name, complicating the search. But she found and messaged Maurice on MySpace six years ago. Maurice responded.

GRIFFIN: She said, hey, baby. And I said, I got to call you back.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Well, what a great story.

Paul Vercammen joins us live outside the courthouse where Maurice Griffin is having his adoption hearing today at the age of 32.

Paul, is it official yet?

VERCAMMEN: It is not official yet because they go into the courthouse in just a little while here, Don, 2:00, West Coast time. And they're going to sit in front of a judge, across a table, and this is a happy day in San Diego County, because every other Friday is adoption Friday. They're expected to be about, oh, 20 other children in there, and then, of course, this big guy, Maurice, and his mother. It will be joyous and they both promise me they're going to tear up.

LEMON: He's bigger than his mom now. And he's going to do it just like the rest of his kids. He wants the full treatment.

VERCAMMEN: He does. And if you look inside the courtroom, there are little dolls and some artwork, it looks like a regular courtroom, but it's sort of decorated nicely for all the children. There we will see Maurice and that very happy moment, like we talked about, Don.

LEMON: What a nice story. Paul Vercammen, thank you for bringing that to us. We really appreciate that.

Coming up, more problems from the troubled Carnival Cruise Line. The company has hit choppy waters lately with a series of P.R. disasters. Ali Velshi tells us how Carnival can stay afloat next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: From the CNN Money newsroom in New York, I'm Ali Velshi. This is "Your Money."

Another floating P.R. disaster for Carnival Cruise Lines. This ship, the Carnival Dream, suffered generator problems, some toilets stopped working again. If you recall last month, an engine room fire left another ship, the Carnival Triumph, crippled and adrift in the Gulf of Mexico with more than 4,200 people aboard.

Now, the scheduled four-day cruise stretched into eight days as tugs pulled the vessel into port in Alabama. You remember that. Food was scarce. Passengers sweltered in the heat with no air conditioning. This time around, it wasn't like that. The Carnival Dream made it to point in St. Martin, which is not a bad place to be stuck. But the cruise is done. Passengers are being flown back to Florida, they're getting a refound for three days' worth of the cruise and a coupon for half off a future cruise.

Carnival chief operating officer Howard Frank praised Carnival's response to this week's fire on the Triumph. Listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

HOWARD FRANK, COO, CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES: Although there are many lessons to be learned from the incident, it is important to understand that our fire suppression systems did work and our crew did a superb job. The ship's systems and crew were able to quickly respond to the fire and extinguish it. So, there were no injuries to either passengers or crew.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: All this bad publicity is hitting Carnival where it hurts. That is in its share price, possibly its balance sheet as well. Take a look at Carnival's stock price over the past three months. It definitely took a dip after the Carnival Triumph problem when the Carnival Triumph was stranded in the Gulf of Mexico and the passengers were stuck on it.

Shares of Carnival have actually since the beginning of the year missed the market rally. While the S&P 500 is up 9 percent, guess what, Carnival stock is down 5 percent. The company's chairman, Micky Arison, he built this cruise ship company, a conglomerate really over the past couple of decades. He and his family own the majority of voting shares in the company that owns Carnival, Princess, Holland America, Seabourn, Cunard and Costa Cruise Lines.

He also happens to be the managing general partner of the Miami Heat basketball team, which is currently on a 20-game winning streak. Here he is, photographed courtside at a Heat game, while about 4,200 of his passengers were sloshing around in their own waste aboard the Carnival Triumph last month. You be the judge about whether or not that was a good place for him to be.

But now, this man, Arison, has admitted, sort of, that bookings dipped as a result of the debacle. Here's what he said -- quote -- "Despite considerable attention surrounding the Carnival Triumph, we have been encouraged to see booking volumes for Carnival Cruise Lines recover significantly in recent weeks."

Recover? From what? By how much? He doesn't say. But bookings prior to the Triumph incident had been higher for 2013. Since that incident, bookings appear to have fallen, and that is causing Carnival to lower its prices for cruises and all of that could hit the company's bottom line this and that is why that is happening to the stock. Are people going to stop cruising? No, they're not. Cruises are still a great deal. But these latest incidents may make them think twice about which company they cruise with, but, remember, the same company owns a lot of cruise lines.

(STOCK MARKET UPDATE)

VELSHI: That's it for me.

For more in-depth coverage of this and more, tune in this weekend to "YOUR MONEY" Saturday at 1:00, Sunday at 3:00 p.m. Eastern.

That's it for me from the CNN Money newsroom in New York. I'm out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: I'm Don Lemon. Come on in here. Technology, sports, business, health, science, and showbiz news. We're hitting it all right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LEONARDO DICAPRIO, ACTOR: I will tell you God's truth, God's truth about myself. I am the son of some very wealthy people. Sadly, they're all dead now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: It seems like an unlikely pairing, mixing "The Great Gatsby"'s 1920s jazz with modern-day hip-hop. But rapper Jay-Z, whose song is already on the trailer for the hotly anticipated movie, can also call himself executive producer of the soundtrack.

He was called on by director Baz Luhrmann to produce music for the film after star Leonardo DiCaprio introduced the two men.

"Jurassic Park" fans, you can smile now. It is official. The wheels are in motion for "Jurassic Park 4." Universal Pictures has just announced that Hollywood up-and-comer Colin Trevorrow, well, he is going to direct the new sequel of the cult classic. Creative mastermind Steven Spielberg, he will take a backseat this time, signing on as executive producer. But don't get too excited just yet. The release date is not until next year, June 13, as a matter of fact.

Netflix has some competition on its hands now. Red Box Instant is up and it is running. The latest company to jump on the board of the video streaming market. For $8 a month, customers can stream movies without a limit, although Red Box is starting with a smaller video library than Netflix. Like Amazon and Apple's iTunes, Red Box Instant also lets customers rent or buy newly released video on demand titles. So get ready for that.