CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

U.S. Ramping Up Missile Defense System; Obama's Mixed Messages On Cuts; Samsung's Eye Phone

Aired March 15, 2013 - 19:00   ET

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


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, the United States boosting its missile defense system on the day same day North Korea makes more threats. It's a big change by the president. We have the latest.

Plus the White House said the forced spending cuts would lead to doom and gloom, but all the talk has been about cancelled tours. Did the president miscalculate?

A plane crash in Florida with multiple explosions on the ground, we're going to go there live. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good Friday evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, America fights back. On the same day North Korea flexed its military muscle by firing a missile into the Sea of Japan. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced the U.S. is boosting its missile defense system.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHUCK HAGEL, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The United States has missile defense systems in place to protect us in case of attacks. North Korea in particular has recently made advances in its capabilities and engaged in a series of irresponsible and reckless provocations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Recent provocations including last month the rogue nation conducted an underground nuclear bomb test and just this week, the government threatened to launch a nuclear strike on the United States.

North Korea also scrapped the 1953 armistice with South Korea that ended the Korean War and all of this comes on top of recent tests, multiple tests of a payload of weapon that is intended to strike the United States.

Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence is OUTFRONT tonight. Chris, what does the missile defense system look like right now? Because I know the former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was talking to him about we would be all right and with the new change the president is about to put in place, how will it be different?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Basically, Erin, right now it all depends on an early warning system in places like Japan. Then it gets down to these ground-based interceptor missiles, which are sort of the last line of defense before something would hit the continental United States.

Right now, that's based on two big bases, one in California, one in Alaska. The U.S. has about 30 of these interceptor missiles. What would happen is an early warning system near some place like Japan would alert that a launch had taken place and then these missiles would launch to try to intercept that nuke that would be coming in.

What's going to change, the U.S. is adding another radar system in Japan to give it better warning and it will be increasing its interceptors by about 50 percent adding 14 new silos by the year 2017.

BURNETT: And do they have a missile capable of hitting the United States yet? I know they have been testing that with their pay low, but do they have a missile that can do that yet?

LAWRENCE: Yes and no. They have a rocket that in theory, you know, it could carry a payload as far as Alaska, Hawaii and even certain parts of the lower 48 United States. The problem is it takes them days to sort of erect and fuel this rocket.

That works fine for a test, but that would be very impractical if you were actually trying to launch actual ordinates. They have developed sort of a mobile missile. It's something that Pentagon officials admitted today surprised them in the threat level.

They didn't think it was moving along as quickly as it did. It has now and that contributed to this change in policy.

BURNETT: All right, Chris Lawrence, thank you very much.

I want to bring in former General James "Spider" Marks now and Gordon Chang, author of "Nuclear Showdown, North Korea Takes On the World." Appreciate both of you being with us.

Spider, let me start with you. What does it say that the Obama administration now rather suddenly has decided they are going to go ahead with a missile defense system with the development of this, which is a plan, by the way, that George W. Bush had put forth that the president mothballed when he got into office.

JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, U..S ARMY GENERAL (RETIRED): Well, clearly, they are responding to what they see from the provocations coming from Kim Jong-Un, the new leader in North Korea. This is all part of his transition.

So it's extremely prudent that needs to be done and when you look at the timelines, Erin, terms of getting the new interceptors in place, as Chris indicated, it's going to take about 24 months.

We have to make some assumptions that the North Koreans are working on the weaponization of a payload whether that's nuclear or that's conventional and the further development of a rocket and then marrying those two up to threaten both the United States and U.S. territories. So the system all has to come together and we need the lead time to get that in place.

BURNETT: Gordon, earlier this week the president talked about the threat from North Korea. Here's how he answered the question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So can North Korea now make good on its threat to hit the United States?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: They probably can't, but we don't like margin of error.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's that close?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: It's not that close. Now what we have done is we made sure we have defensive measures to prevent any attacks on the homeland. We're not anticipating any of that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Anticipating any of that, Gordon, but he's saying they probably can. I mean, that's definitive. In 2011, then Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he thought North Korea could have a missile to hit the United States within five years.

We're in 2013 right now. It's going to takes two years to get this missile defense plan up and running. Is that cutting it too close? Are they going to move more quickly than we think?

GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN: NORTH KOREA TAKES ON THE WORLD": Well, they certainly have been moving more quickly than we think. The president when he was talking about that was assuming that the North Koreans would airmail a nuke.

You know, we've talked about the possibility of the North Koreans assembling a bomb in an American city. They can do that right away and we don't have a credible defense for it. Also, we may not retaliate if we can't attribute that to North Korea.

So, yes, the North Koreans are moving very fast. I think part of it is because they are getting help. They are certainly getting help from China because of the new mobile missile. The Chinese sold them the launchers, which substantially increases their ability to wage nuclear war.

BURNETT: So you're saying China, which everyone is saying as the only one that can control North Korea and has an interest in doing so is simultaneously helping them be able to attack the U.S. at the same time?

CHANG: Well, it certainly is because they sold those six transporter erector launchers that we saw in the April 15th, 2012, military parade in Pyongyang. The Chinese sold them that. They probably also sold them the KN-08 though, we don't know about that.

We do know that the Chinese have sold that same launcher and that same missile to the Pakistanis. So there's a real question here and right now, we're not willing to talk to the Chinese about these issues in public. We need to have a public conversation about this because this threatens America.

BURNETT: General Marks, what confuses me and seems worrisome is how quickly the assessment of the situation seemed to have changed from this administration. I was in Afghanistan in December with then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and that was when North Korea tested a missile.

I asked him about it. I asked him if we were prepared for a strike from North Korea to the west coast of the United States. Here's how he answered that question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEON PANETTA, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: Well, the fact is that we do have a very strong missile defense that would be able to guard against that kind of potential.

BURNETT: So we would be able to stop it if they were coming in?

PANETTA: I'm very confident that we would be able to do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: So General Marks, he said that in December. Now we're saying we're worried and we're changing our plans and upping our defense. Do we really know North Korea -- what they have or have they just come along much more dramatically than we thought?

MARKS: We are not completely certain in terms of what we have. We have a really good idea. I can tell you our intelligence community having been the senior intel guy in Korea. We understand the pieces that would go into assembling this capability and threat.

The key thing is Secretary Panetta was really saying, look, we'll be able to detect a threat coming in. That's step one as being able to see that it's inbound. But then being able to do something about with the interceptors is the challenge.

As the president indicated, we have to up the ante to make sure that we're not falling within some of margin of errors he said that would not be to our benefit. So this makes perfect sense to me. We need to do it. It's long overdue.

Also bear in mind, we have been at war in another part of the world for the last decade. We haven't really focused as well as we should at the national level. We are now.

BURNETT: Those wars, of course, making the world perceive the U.S. as much more hesitant to engage now. Thanks to both of you.

Still to come, the president made a joke about the spending cuts today, sort of interesting. His audience laughed, the look on his face not so much, but is it Republicans who will have the last laugh on this or not?

Samsung released the new phone with eye control meaning eyes, not iPhone. We have one. Does it live up to the hype?

And construction workers unearth a gruesome, but absolutely incredible historic find.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Our second story, OUTFRONT, is the joke on us? All right, now that the forced spending cuts are in full effect, the president has decided to have a little fun with it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, those of you who have chairs, please feel free to sit down. I'm sorry. Everybody who is standing, I thought one of the effects of "The Sequester." You had to get rid of chairs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Give him a little credit for that. Fewer chairs, not the worst thing in the world compared with what we were told to expect.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: It will mean lower employment in the United States.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There are real people out there who will be delayed or who will have their wages cut or who will lose their jobs.

ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: It will curtail our ability to respond to crimes and other threats and investigate wrong doing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are teachers now who are giving pink slips and notices that can't come back this far.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The big airports, some of them had long lines this week weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The sequester cuts will mean enough reduction in hours. It will be the equivalent of 5,000 border patrol agents being cut.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: All right, OUTFRONT tonight, Dan Pfeiffer, senior adviser to President Obama. Dan, thanks for taking the time. You know, so far, at least and I say so far, the reality hasn't backed up a lot of that rhetoric.

Arne Duncan, of course, walked back his comments. Lines in the airport, it's actually been shorter not longer. Did the White House overplay their hand?

DAN PFEIFFER, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: No, I think we were clear from the beginning that these cuts weren't going to happen overnight. We weren't going to see the effect in the first week or the second week, but over time.

All of these impacts are real. Here in Washington, a lot of the Republican Party and some of the folks in White House briefing every day are obsessed about White House tourists.

If you look in the front page of papers around the country, at the 6:00 news, they are talking about people getting furloughed from jobs, layoff notices, kids getting kicked out of head starts, those are very real impacts.

And every economist agrees this is going to have an impact in our economy. We're going to create fewer jobs because of this, 750,000 jobs this year according to CBO. Economic growth will be reduced. There were a bunch of estimates that came out today reducing their forecast for the year all because of "The Sequester."

BURNETT: All right, you mentioned the White House tours, which have got an lot of press. You mentioned the other things. Obviously most people haven't felt it yet. And the White House tours have become a big issue and talking point. This week at CPAC, it was brought up repeatedly. Here's a little touch of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Mr. President, maybe we could have cut the robotic squirrel before we went to White House tours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now he's decided to shut down White House tours. Apparently, now the only folks who can get a tour of the White House are those that contribute $500,000 or more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Was that a misstep? I mean, the Secret Service according the forced cuts have to safe $2 million this year. The tours will save them $2 million out of the $84 million that they save, out of $1.75 billion budget. I mean, why let the tours be cancelled to begin with? It was like giving the other side a gift, wasn't it?

PFEIFFER: Well, look, I would say this was a binary choice. It's either we suspend tours or ask the brave men and women of the Secret Service to take an additional pay cut, have more furlough days.

To me while it's unfortunate that tours have to be close, it's not a close call. We shouldn't ask the men and women who put their lives in line to protect the president and many members -- many people across our government to take a pay cut because Congress couldn't get its act together.

BURNETT: Right, I totally agree with you on that. But I mean, you're saying the analysis was done that they had to cut $84 million. The only way, the only thing left to get $2 million was either cut their pay or stop the White House tours? That was it?

PFEIFFER: Well, you know the sequester gives agencies very little flexibility in how they do these things. It's an across-the- board cut. It's a stupid policy. It wasn't every supposed to go into effect.

BURNETT: Now the president is trying to make the argument you're making and he is trying to do in part by what's been called the charm offensive, right, lunches, dinners, meetings with Republicans.

One senior White House official though complained to the "National Journal's" Ron Fournier, I'll quote him, "This is a joke. We're wasting the president's time and ours. I hope you all in the media," referring to people like me, "are happy because we're doing this for you." That was a pretty damning statement. Was this all a dog and pony show?

PFEIFFER: Well, I have no idea who said that from the White House. I know that person doesn't reflect the view of the president or his senior staff. We don't use the president's time to go up to Capitol Hill just do a dog and pony show or to impress anyone in the press.

He went up there to talk to Republicans and Democrats about his entire agenda, creating jobs for the middle class, growing the economy, dealing with the deficits, immigration reform, across the board to see if we can find a way to find compromise. It's the only way to get anything done.

BURNETT: But the charm offensive, you know, comes at a time when the poll numbers for the president are falling. You're aware of that. His job approving rating has fallen 5-percentage points in the past three months.

In January, it was 55. Now it's 50. What do you say to critics who say this charm offensive is because your poll numbers are dropping? You're doing it because you're forced to. Not because he actually wants to talk to these people.

PFEIFFER: Well, a couple of things, Erin. First, the president has run his last election. He's not worried about poll numbers. He's never going to be on the ballot again. All he cares about trying to get things done.

And so the best way to get things done is to try to work with Democrats and Republicans to do that. So that's what this week was about. That's what the dinner last week was about.

I would say also for those who are focused on poll numbers, the president's approval rating in the poll you cited is at the level it was on the day he won 332 electoral votes and became the fifth president to win 51 percent of the vote twice.

So we're not worried about poll numbers. He's doing fine. What we're trying to do is get things done.

BURNETT: All right, thanks very much to Dan.

Still to come, the Galaxy S4 finally hit the market. Is its eye control feature a vision of the future or just an illusion?

Plus Donald Trump spoke at CPAC today and ignited a fire storm, is it time for the Republican Party to step up and do it, fire Trump?

How would you like to have a royal face? There's a guy in New York who knows exactly how you can do it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Our third story, OUTFRONT, scrolling with your eyes. That's what everybody has been talking about. The new Samsung phone, the S4, is getting incredible buzz because of this feature.

It even made the front page of "The New York Post," which screamed in its typical fashion, an eye phone, as in the real deal.

CNN Zain Asher has been testing the S4. Zain, you were at the unveiling last night, which I know was a huge event.

ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was like a Broadway play basically.

BURNETT: Wow, all right, so they put every -- lots and lots of money into that. They are betting big on this. So this whole eye- controlled scroll thing, you got to test it.

ASHER: Yes, I did. You know, it didn't necessary live up to the hype, right. So we were told all these rumors going around that you could scroll through the phone using nothing but your eyes, right. But when you actually got to play with it, I mean, yes, it did sort of track your eyes, but you still had to tilt the phone to get it to scroll so it was kind of a disappointment.

BURNETT: So it might have been a little bit more about the tilt?

ASHER: Right, exactly pretty much.

BURNETT: You know, I'm kind of OK with that. Because I think once it can read your eyes, it can start reading your mind and there's nothing good in that. They also spent a lot of time last night looking at other features.

The capability of the camera, which I guess, say a child is opening a present, you can take a picture of the child and also the present so you can take both at the same instant.

ASHER: The camera is absolutely cool. It wowed everybody. Let me break down how the camera actually works, right. So if I'm taking a picture of someone and they are standing outside and a stranger happens to walk through my shot, I can actually take the photo and then delete the stranger from my picture.

So you can kind of edit the photo, right. Another cool thing is that if I'm taking a picture with a group of friends, the person taking the picture can actually be in the shot as well. I can take a photograph of my CNN colleagues and I can be in the shot too, pretty cool.

BURNETT: So a photo can now be it all. I can no longer say look at this picture. It's going to cause havoc. How does it compare to the iPhone?

ASHER: So I think this is going to be a huge threat to the iPhone 5. I mean, first of all, Samsung's S4 does have a bigger screen. It does have a faster processor, but you know, one thing that does work in Apple's favor to be honest is that a lot of the technology associated with the S4 felt very sort of gimmicky.

So for example, you can scroll through photographs just sort of wiping your hand through the air. You know, not necessarily that useful. But either way, Apple is going to have to come up with something really good to compete.

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Zain. I'm glad that the eyes don't have it.

All right, still to come, conservative Senator Rob Portman decides he's now for gay marriage. It's a dramatic reversal. We have an inclusive. We'll tell you why.

And another day, another crisis for Carnival cruises. This has become more than a PR nightmare.

And breaking news, a deadly plane crash in Florida, we are going to go to the scene after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT. We start with stories we care about and reporting from the front lines. So we begin tonight with Mali, war continuous to ravage the country and Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper said yesterday, the combat military mission in Mali is a nonstarter. Canada has already provided a C-17 military transport plane.

Also the U.S. ambassador to Nigeria reportedly raised concerns that Islamic extremists keep moving freely between Nigeria and Mali. Earlier this week, the former national security adviser, Jim Jones came on this program and said that America needs to focus on Nigeria because he believes al Qaeda's ultimate goal is to destabilize the country.

It's the most populous in Africa and one which matters hugely to the United States. Nigeria is the largest provider of the oil used in American gasoline. Major disruptions there will cost directly here at home.

And a Maryland man has died of rabies that he contracted after a kidney transplant a year and a half ago. It's an incredible story. And according to the CDC, doctors knew that the donor had encephalitis, which is an inflammation of the brain, but they didn't know that rabies was the cause.

Now, a similar incident actually occurred in 2004. Four people then died from rabies, after a transplant. Dr. Dori Sadja (ph), a transplant surgeon at Johns Hopkins says these are extremely rare, but donors are not tested for rabies. He says such a test is complex and could do more harm than good, in a situation where time is of the essence. But, of course, that means some people lose their lives.

Well, another day, another problem for Carnival cruise line. Today, the world's largest cruise company announced that the Carnival Legend is now limping back to port because of technical issues. It can't go very fast. It's the third time this week that a vessel with Carnival has had a problem.

Just yesterday, we told you the company had to fly 4,000 passengers back to Florida when the Carnival Dream lost power. Luckily for them, they were docked in the Caribbean when it happened. That's why they didn't have the problem like the infamous Triumph. Carnival says it's doing everything it can, saying it is conducting a comprehensive review of its entire fleet.

Well, today, a Senate subcommittee grilled JPMorgan executives connected to the "London whale" trading scandal. That scandal led to $6 billion in losses.

Among those questioned, Ina Drew, who was the woman in charge. She oversaw the trades. She lost her job because of this. Today, she admitted mistakes were made but she was deceived by people who worked for her.

This comes a day after a Senate report scolded the bank for manipulating results.

Peter Tchir of TF Market Advisors tells us the allegations are extremely damaging to the man at the helm, the man you all know, Jamie Dimon. He says the bank made money, so it's concerning. The government thinks they can manage risks better than Dimon.

Well, it's been 589 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?

Well, the gauge that measures inflation shows consumer prices rose last month more than expected. The biggest jump we've seen since 2009. The biggest reason? Back to what I said about Nigeria, rising gas prices.

And now, breaking news out of Florida. A fiery and deadly plane crash after a failed takeoff attempt in Fort Lauderdale.

We want to show you the pictures of the horrific scene here. You can see, it was a twin engine plane. It burst into flames right after it smashed into a building. And the flames, as you can see there, then engulfed an entire parking lot.

We can tell you right now is that all three people on board that aircraft were killed. Our John Zarrella is OUTFRONT on the story.

And, John, what else do you know about the crash?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Erin, we know from authorities that the plane was taking off from the west to the east out of Fort Lauderdale executive airport. And that's about five to seven miles north of Fort Lauderdale International Airport. So, it had nothing to do with international airport.

Almost immediately after taking off, the pilot began to bank the plane in an attempt, authorities say, to get back to the airport. Of course, as we know, he did not make it. We do not know at this point in time if any distress call was issued from the pilot to the tower. Eyewitnesses are saying that they saw the plane literally spiral into the ground. And, of course, it exploded.

And as you mentioned when it hit the ground, engulfing those cars in that parking lot there, about seven cars burst into flames. And, of course, the thick, black smoke that we saw billowing up from the initial crash site was because the plane was so filled with fuel having just taken off and, of course, from the cars that it hit on the ground -- Erin.

BURNETT: So, John, let me ask you. Investigators -- I know this has to be tough to ascertain this quickly. But did they know why the plane may have crashed?

ZARRELLA: You know, investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are just probably now just getting started with their investigation. But one thing they'll probably be able to rule out very quickly is weather. That could not have been a factor. It was clear skies in Fort Lauderdale, very light winds today.

What they will do, though, is pretty quickly try to ascertain if that distress call was issued from the pilot to the control tower and gave any indication as to what the problem may have been on the plane. And then one of the first things they will do following that is they'll start pouring over the plane's maintenance records to see if they can find out any indication that when it had its last service, if everything was up to date on the airplanes, and then move forward from there -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to you, John Zarrella.

And now to our fourth story OUTFRONT: A dramatic reversal, I mean, dramatic. So, staunch conservative Rob Portman, you know him, a senator from Ohio, who is on Mitt Romney's short list for V.P. He's come out and said he's dropping his opposition to same-sex marriage after his own son came out. He shared this story exclusively with our Dana Bash.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R), OHIO: My son came to Jane, my wife, and I and told us he was gay and that it was not a choice. And that, you know, he -- that's just part of who he is and he'd been that way ever since he could remember. And that launched an interesting process for me which was kind of rethinking my position. I have come to the conclusion that 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've had for over 26 years. I want all three of my kids to have that it, including our son who is gay.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Now, the senator's reversal puts him at odds with every other Republican senator now serving, at least publicly. On the same day that Portman said this, here's Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Just because I believe that state should have the right to define marriage does not make me a bigot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Will Portman's change of heart change any minds?

OUTFRONT tonight, Ken Blackwell, a longtime friend of Rob Portman's, and the former Ohio secretary of state. Also, Reihan Salam, our contributor, of course, who writes for "The National Review."

Ken, let me start with you. You have known Rob Portman along time. You don't think this was the right thing to do? You think it's a mistake? How come?

KEN BLACKWELL, FORMER OHIO SECRETAR OF STATE: Well, look, I think it was a decision that the Portman family, who I love and respect, made and made together. Choosing to hope that Will finds a partner that he can share his life with is that family's decision. But that family's decision should not undercut: one, the state's rights across this country to determine that marriage is a union between one man and one woman consistent with a design that's been in play for over 2,500 years.

So I don't think that this one family's decision is going to impact, let's say, in Ohio, public opinion, which is strongly in support of traditional and natural marriage.

BURNETT: You know, Reihan, there were -- Republicans were responding. They were all firing back at this. They were all at CPAC today, of course. Rick Santorum, here's what he had to say about Rob Portman's reversal.

RICK SANTORUM, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not too sure that the rational behind what Senator Portman was doing is something that has brought application to the debate. And the fundamental principles that attach to the institution of marriage really haven't changed as a result of that personal story.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: And, Reihan, John Boehner, House speaker, released a statement saying Senator Portman is a great friend and the speaker respects his position but the speaker continues to think that marriage is between a man and a woman. Will Portman do anything to change Republicans minds?

Reihan, one thing I don't get about this is the age divide -- people under the age of 35, I mean, most of them support gay marriage, Republican or not.

REIHAN SALAM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I've actually seen really striking numbers. For example, there's a Gallup Survey which found that 73 percent of folks between 18 and 29 favor same-sex marriage.

The way I look at it is this, there are two marriage debates we could be having. There's one marriage debate we could be having about whether or not same-sex couple should be allowed to get married. And there's another much bigger marriage debate about the fact that stable marriages are vanishing in this country.

When you look at, for example, 35 percent of children are raised by single parents in the United States, 35 percent. In 2010 over 40 percent of children were born to unwed mothers. So marriage is still very strong and stable among college-educated affluent Americans, but among working class and middle class Americans, marriage is vanishing.

And my view is this: if conservatives want to talk about the importance of strong, stable marriages, by opposing same-sex marriage, you're alienating a lot of the young people who could be otherwise be allies in making the case that we need to revitalize a marriage culture and we need strong, stable marriages.

And the truth is that the same-sex marriage issue, in my view, is kind of a distraction from that much bigger, much more important, much more consequential discussion.

BURNETT: It's a fair point.

Ken, I want to ask you this, though. You know, Portman said that he made his decision because he's a conservative. When I thought about what he said, you know, it made sense, right? Isn't the point conservatives say they are about is stay out of my personal business, government, so marriage and who you marry is a personal decision? Wouldn't it be consistent if you say you're conservative to not say who anybody can marry?

BLACKWELL: No. Look, let's be clear about something.

Making a decision based purely on love is putting us down a slippery slope. You know, what about the person who loves two women and wants to engage in polygamy? If, in fact, love is a determining factor, what compelling interest does the state have in saying that marriage should be between two people, one man, one woman.

If two siblings love one another and it's in their economic interest to marry, what stops if marriage -- if marriage is determined or the right to marry is determined by love for another?

This is a very important decision. There's compelling state interests in supporting and nurturing a healthy family, marriages between one man and one woman, raising children and standing together.

Let e me just say this. The people who make the argument get government out of my marriage, I bet they don't make the argument get government out of my divorce.

BURNETT: Thank you very much. Interesting point.

Ken and Reihan, thanks to you also.

And still to come, Donald Trump gets absolutely terrible reviews for his speech at CPAC. Has the GOP outgrown the Donald?

And a grisly discovery but one that may hold clues to a vital moment in history.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: And now to tonight's "Outer Circle", where we reach out to our sources around the world.

We go tonight to London where construction workers digging to build a new rail link unearthed a grisly find that's been buried for seven centuries. What they found was 13 skeletons laid out in two neat rows.

So, who are they? Well, archaeologists say they could have been part of a plague pit. One of many mass graves used to dispose of people who died from the Black Death or bubonic plague.

Isa Soares is covering the story and I asked her about the scene.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If you look over my right shoulder, you'll see a construction site. Now, this is no ordinary construction site. Here, they have unearthed some very interesting and peculiar findings.

(voice-over): Two and a half meters below ground level, well- preserved skeletons were uncovered here. Bodies of evidence believes to be victims of the Black Death.

In the 1300s, the Black Death killed between 20 million and 30 million people in Europe. No human to human transmission, however, has been recorded in the past 60 years.

How many more of the skeletons were found, now that remains to be seen.

Isa Soares, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BURNETT: Just incredible to think about when you think about how many people died if that percent of the population died now in some sort of a plague, it is impossible to imagine.

Let's check in with Anderson Cooper now with a look at what's coming up on "A.C. 360".

Good Friday to you, Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, good Friday to you, too.

BURNETT: Yes.

COOPER: We are keeping them honest tonight in the program. The story you will not see anywhere else. An African-American man walking in rural Mississippi struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver. The question is: was it an accident or murder?

Authorities never took the time to actually find out. They never investigated the death of Garrick Bordett (ph) . We'll tell you his story. Not for three years did they investigated, not until "360's" Drew Griffin started asking questions. We'll keep them honest tonight.

Also in crime and punishment, this is what Jodi Arias was doing in a police station minutes before she was charged with the murder of her boyfriend Travis Alexander. She was doing head stands. The question is, will the jury ever see this video or others like it? A lot is riding on the judge's decision. We'll talk about it with CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, also criminal defense attorney, Mark Geragos. Those stories and tonight's "RidicuList" and a whole lot more at the top of the hour -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much, Anderson.

And now our fifth story OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, "THE APPRENTICE": You're fired.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Yes, the reviews of Donald Trump's speech are in and "you're fired" may be the next words Donald Trump hears from his party.

Here's the sampling of the reviews. "The Christian Science Monitor": "Donald Trump's CPAC speech, is he a Democratic secret agent?"

From "Business Insider," Donald Trump just gave a nonsensical speech and even conservatives were dumb struck.

From "The Washington Post": "In rambling CPAC speech, Donald Trump says GOP in serious trouble." And from "The Atlantic," "Donald Trump fires everyone's ideas."

Well, "The Atlantic" may have a point there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The fact is we're run by either very foolish or very stupid people. What's going on in this country is unbelievable. Our country is a total mess -- a total and complete mess. And what we need is leadership.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: All right. He didn't promise a pick me up. The question is, will his speech really a dud or did the media missed the mark?

OUTFRONT tonight: Tim Carney, senior political columnist in "The Washington Examiner," Michael Medved, conservative commentator for Salem Radio, and our contributor and Republican strategist Ana Navarro.

Ana, you were in the ballroom this morning. You heard the speech first hand. What did you think?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I thought it was God awful. Really, it was dissonant to what's been a theme of the CPAC conference. There's been some great speeches, some serious and substantive speeches on all sorts of issues.

Donald Trump was rambling. It was random thoughts on the world according to Donald Trump. It had no coherence, made no sense, he basically insulted everybody in one speech, insulted Governor Bobby Jindal, insulted Mitt Romney, insulted the campaign, insulted Republicans and went on to talk about his money.

So his was not the speech that I think the CPAC folk were expecting from Donald Trump. It wasn't even entertaining, Erin. He got very tepid response, polite applause at some points, but that was about it in a half-full room.

BURNETT: Wow.

All right. Tim, you know, that -- Ana talks about a half-full room. What a difference two years makes. Remember back in 2011, Trump was the hero of CPAC. He was flirting with a run for the White House. Here's how it went down at CPAC then.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: If I run and if I win, this country will be respected again. This country will be respected again. I can tell you that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Tim, it's like a Super Bowl-like cheer and the headlines then, it is like the mirror image of tonight. FOX News, "Trump electrifies CPAC". "Huffington Post," all right, so I'm not just doing the FOX News side of things, "Trump CPAC speech stirs buzz". That's pretty ringing endorsement from "The Huffington Post" for Trump. And from "Politico", "CPAC to Trump: You're hired."

Now, this, of course, was before he launched his all-out assault on the president's birth certificate. Where does Trump stand now?

TIM CARNEY, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well -- and I went to New Hampshire early in the primary process and I found a lot of people who were sort of embarrassed but they were embarrassed about the fact that they kind of were interested in him. He was just tapping into an anti-Obama sentiment and an anti-Washington sentiment but he never had any coherent ideas. He never has had any coherent ideas.

He's been a self-promoter and something of a clown. And his past is not conservative to any stretch of the imagination.

So, I'm embarrassed to the degree that any conservatives at CPAC in 2011 were cheering for him. Hopefully, they were just cheering for his jokes or cheering against Obama, because he has a long record of, you know, being a developer who takes away people's land. He was pro- choice until it became politically good to be pro-life. He gave more money to Democrats than Republicans over his life.

I think he ought to go back to that party, go back to the Democrats. The conservative movement, the Republican Party would be glad to see him go.

BURNETT: Michael Medved, I am heaping that you will defend Mr. Trump.

MICHAEL MEDVED, SALEM RADIO: I won't defend Mr. Trump, because I think he was ridiculous about the birth certificate thing. Look, we have a problem, if we are going to treat the Republican Party like an exclusive country club. We want more people to come into the party, especially people who are -- let's face it -- very successful businessmen. I mean, Donald Trump -- what strikes me is we ought to be attacking Democrats for taking people like Ashley Judd seriously and talking about running her for the United States Senate from Kentucky against Mitch McConnell. That's ridiculous.

At least Donald Trump, first of all, has flirted twice now with running for president, both times has pulled back. I much prefer that if he runs for president or for anything he does so as a Republican, we need a big tent party. I'm glad Trump was there. I wish Chris Christie had been there, and Bob McDonnell, and GOProud, the gay Republican group.

But the fact that Donald Trump is there, why do we want to throw anyone out of our party?

BURNETT: All right. We will leave it there. And thanks very much to three of you. And, everyone, please go online and check out the speech. Let us know what you think. Well, people have been buzzing this week about a Facebook study that showed people who liked curly fries on the site have higher I.Q.s. Now, we brought you this story on Tuesday with the lament I'm obviously not smart, because when I'm at Arby's, I go with the potato cakes instead of the curly fries. That's one of the only places you get a choice between the two.

Now, apparently, the people at Arby's saw our segment, because Bob Kraut, the senior vice president of brand marketing and advertising sent me a letter which read, "Enclosed are a few coupons to enjoy some potato cakes on us, as well as some curly fry coupons for any friends or colleagues in need of some mental stimulation."

Now, Bob, thank you. I'm serious. It was really nice of you.

But what's the deal with these coupons? When I looked at them, I saw you sent five coupons for curly fries but only three for potato cakes.

I see what you're doing. But I'm not ready to give in. Because the idea the curly fry fans have a higher I.Q. does not add up to me.

So we investigated. And that bring mess to tonight's number, 230. That is the number of calories in Arby's two-piece potato cake serving, the one I religiously by. Small curly fry, nearly double that, 400 calories. Your curly fries have way more calories than my potato cakes, people. Who's stupid now?

Still too come in the essay, the face that won over a prince can be yours, it's no joke. And we will tell you how, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Kate Middleton, the duchess of Cambridge, has a fairytale life, a royal husband, palaces, millions of dollars, amazing vacations and the title of queen consort will be hers one day.

She's also soon to give birth to an heir to the throne, male or female. Pretty perfect, right? What's it like to be the most popular member of the royal family? Who knows?

With the nose quite literally being the operative word, since she married Prince William, more and more women have been asking plastic surgeons to give her Kate's nose. In Britain, it's been called the most requested celebrity facial feature and spring's hottest accessory. Wow.

And here in the U.S., a New York surgeon who performed 100 Middletons actually keeps a file of pictures of Kate's nose. I truly thought this was a joke, but we are not here to talk about the silliness or sadness of this nose infatuation.

The thing is, I could never do it. I have a prominent nose, as some of you have prominently pointed out on Twitter. My sisters tease me growing up about my big nose always being pointed in somebody's business and my husband once took a picture of me with the toucan with a toucan competing for who's beak was bigger.

Now, my nose, though, is part of me. Before we said no for sure that the Middleton, we tested a Middleton on my face, going from this -- oh, no way. No way. No way.

One final thing in ninth grade, my classmate, John Frank, ran for class president. His platform: vote for a guy who has a nose like Caesar. John did. He embraced that shnozz, a terrific campaign. The funny thing is we were talking about his campaign in the office today and I honestly couldn't remember if John won the election. But you know what? A part of me knows he did.

Have a great weekend.

Anderson Cooper starts now.